Confusion as Court Bars CJ Koome From Swearing In 6 Judges

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    President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed the swearing-in of Lady Justice Martha Karambu Koome as the new Chief Justice of Kenya at State House, Nairobi in May 2021
  • The Court of Appeal has barred Chief Justice Martha Karambu Koome from swearing in six judges rejected by President Uhuru Kenyatta over what he termed as integrity issues.

    The Appellant Court on Friday, November 19, ordered the Chief Justice not to proceed with the swearing-in of the six as directed by the High Court on November 8.

    In its ruling, the High Court had ordered Koome to swear in the six if the President faied to appoint them to their respective offices within 14 days from November 8 when the ruling was made.

    The High Court explained that if Uhuru did not carry on the appointments within the stated period, he will have ceded his powers and the CJ should swear them in.

    Lady Justice Martha Koome while she delivered judgments and rulings of the Court of Appeal via Skype on April 24, 2020.
    Lady Justice Martha Koome while she delivered judgments and rulings of the Court of Appeal via Skype on April 24, 2020.

    However, the Chief Justice expressed her dissatisfaction with the ruling, filing a notice of appeal.

    "Take notice that the 3rd Respondent herein, Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya, being dissatisfied with the judgment of the High Court at Nairobi delivered on October 21, intends to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the whole judgment and decree," read the court documents.

    While delivering their judgment on October 21, High Court Judges, James Wakiaga, George Nduru, and William Musyoka, directed the CJ to swear in the six Judges if the President failed to appoint them within 14 days from the judgment date.

    “Upon the lapse of the 14 days, without Uhuru having made the appointment it shall be presumed that his power to make them has expired and his office becomes functus so far as the appointments are concerned and the six nominees shall be deemed duly appointed effective from the date of default as Judges of superior courts for which they were recommended,” the three Judges ruled. 

    Among the Judges who are at the centre of contention between Uhuru and the Judiciary are Justices Aggrey Muchelule, George Odunga, Weldon Korir, and Joel Ngugi, who were recommended to be promoted as Judges in the Appellate Court.

    President Kenyatta argued through his lawyer that the court does not have powers to give his powers of swearing-in Judges to another person.

    While promoting 34 other Judges in June 2021, Uhuru argued that the state had a dossier on the six Judges who he accused of having integrity and graft issues. 

    Law experts cautioned that the High Court ruling would escalate the tension and sever the relationship between the Executive and the Judiciary. 

    In as much as CJ Koome indicated that she would not be a pushover and would also pressure Uhuru to respect the Judiciary and the Constitution, overstepping the President would be a tough call for her to make. 

    Undated photos of President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Chief Justice Martha Koome (right)