The agenda for Chief Justice nominee Martha Koome upon assuming office can finally be revealed. Koome whose nomination was bulldozed by the Judicial Service Commission led by the interview panel chairperson Olive Mugenda at the behest of powerful forces has been tasked with overhauling the Supreme Court by orchestrating the removal of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and her colleague in the bench, Justice Smokin Wanjala. Mwilu and Wanjala with former Chief Justice David Maraga and Justice Isaac Lenaola in a majority ruling annulled Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in the August 17 2017 presidential election and ordered a repeat. Uhuru vowed to revisit the Judiciary once he won again to weed out judges he called as crooks, with fingers now being pointed at those who annulled his win in the presidential race.
Sources revealed that by December this year, the Supreme Court will have a new face with those expected to remain being Justice Lenaola and Justice Njoki Ndung’u. Justice Mohammed Warsame and Justice Mwilu are being linked to Karen gang cartel of lawyers Paul Muite, Ahmednassir Abdullahi, Mutua Makau and Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi. Some are for William Ruto presidency. They had planned to sneak one of the candidates to succeed Maraga for political and commercial gains. Sources say the nomination of Koome is aimed at taming the operations of the Karen gang in the corridors of justice where since the era of former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, they have been calling shots becoming millionaires. When David Maraga was named CJ, the Karen gang had links with Mwilu hence the current troubles Mwilu is experiencing. They were not in good books with Maraga going by the comments they made on Maraga era as CJ. Justice Lenaola is being spared since he comes from minority community and is also relatively young while Justice Ndung’u is pro-establishment.
Koome nomination has not been received well by her boss at the Court of Appeal, Justice William Ouko who doubles as the president of the Court of Appeal.
Justice Ouko who has applied to be considered as a Supreme Court judge, is expected to be appointed to the apex court bench to please pro-handshake team allied to Raila Odinga. There is talk that once Mwilu is out, Ouko will land the position of Deputy Chief Justice to please ODM luminaries. The nomination of Justice Ouko as Deputy Chief Justice will be done to sooth the Luo community, which has been crying that they are not reaping the benefits of the March 9 2018 handshake between the Uhuru and Raila Odinga. According to sources, the first task of the JSC with Koome as Chief Justice is to orchestrate the removal of Mwilu by either demanding she resigns or “advising” the president to form a tribunal to probe her conduct if she does not resign.
With Koome representing the Supreme Court at JSC, it will have a majority of Uhuru’s loyalists who will approve the removal of Mwilu over a criminal case facing her. If Mwilu refuses to resign, the president will form a commission to probe her activities in accordance with the law. Going by the current JSC composition where Mwilu was denied powers to chair the panel to nominate new CJ in preference of Mugenda, her future hangs in the balance. Next on the line for removal is Justice Wanjala, who also annulled Uhuru’s win. Justice Wanjala’s petition for removal will cite alleged bad conduct, which is unbecoming of a judge.
Part of the evidence is a video clip where he stunned villagers at a burial in Busia county after he made a rather odd speech where he bragged about his credentials, success and career. The judge who was drunk at the time was attending the burial of (Rtd) Justice Lawrence Peter Ouna in the company of Busia senator Amos Wako, Busia county assembly speaker Bernard Wamalwa, former MPs Paul Otuoma (Funyula) and Fred Gumo (Westlands).
In the video, Wanjala is seen staggering while addressing the mourners in Luhya vernacular. “I am well learned. I went to university and attained a degree. I also undertook my masters at Columbia University. I learnt English and I am a fluent speaker,” Wanjala said in a drunken speech. The sources added that the hasty forwarding of Koome’s name to the national assembly by Uhuru was meant to forestall any litigation to block the process.
Already, speaker Justin Muturi has confirmed to the house the president had forwarded Koome’s name for vetting and approval. The justice and legal affairs committee will vet the nominee and table its report before the national assembly on May 25. Already, Havi has criticised JSC’s unanimous decision to nominate Koome, arguing the nomination is an ‘investment of the state’ as opposed to merit based and that a commission can never reach a unanimous decision.
Havi’s beef with Koome is that she acted in bad faith in a petition by human rights crusader, Khelef Khalifa, who had also petitioned JSC not to recommend her. Khalifa claimed Koome participated in a judicial conspiracy that defeated electoral justice in 2017. But a few hours after Odunga’s judgment, then Court of Appeal president, now Attorney General Paul Kihara, formed a three-judge bench that overturned Odunga’s decision. Insiders in corridors of power reveal, a section of JSC commissioners were forced to play games by powerful forces in favour of Koome on ground, some of them have pending files linking them to various malpractices and were to play it safe. To complicate matters is the talk that Justice Ouko was betrayed by JSC commissioner AG Paul Kihara who awarded him 46pc while another commissioner Njeru Macharia gave him 42pc to lock him out.
They all have roots in Mount Kenya region. By last week, talk was that a section of Luo MPs were concerned with CJ recruitment. Also not comfortable is Jubilee wing allied to Ruto. However, they cannot raise issues on grounds, it will have a backlash in vote rich Meru region. Apart from Meru region votes, we have women vote who are comfortable one of them is CJ. Those who plotted to have Koome get the slot had worked well on political ramification of those to oppose. The powerful Winnie Guchu, a new kid in Uhuru succession based at office of the president is the face behind after she took over from PS Karanja Kibicho in handling Uhuru succession.