34 newly appointed judges by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday to the Court of Appeal, Labour and Relations court, and Environment and Land Court sworn in at Statehouse Nairobi.
President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the ceremony on Friday afternoon, congratulated the new appointees, and urged them to serve the people of Kenya with diligence and fairness.
“I congratulate you individually and collectively on your appointments as judges, I urge you to serve Kenyans with unfailing integrity and commitment, your actions be guided slowly on the unbiased and faithful application of the constitution, our written laws and principles, and values as a nation and the overriding interest of justice,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The president defended his move on the rejection of six justices nominated by the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) citing failure to meet the required qualifications that he forwarded back to the commission.
The six judges include the judge of the High Court Justice Prof. Joel Ngugi, Weldon Korir, George Odunga, Agggrey Muchelule, Registrar of the High Court Judith Omange, and Evans Makori nominated to the environment and land courts.
Justice Joel Ngugi and George Odunga were among the 5 bench High Court judges that termed the Building Bridges Initiative BBI as unconstitutional and illegal two weeks ago.
The appointment by the president has caused counter-reactions from the legal field, who have claimed the move by the president unconstitutional. Katiba Institute moved to court to stop the swearing of the 34 judges but was overruled by the court of appeal.
On Friday, the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association KMJA out ruled the appointment terming it ‘cherry-picking’ of appointees list forwarded by the JSC by the association’s Secretary-General Derrick Kuto.
“Once the JSC has recommended names for the appointment, the president has no power to tinker the names. Any such attempts amount to interference with the institutional independence of the constitution in particular the rule of law which the president swore to uphold.” Stated the statement signed by Sec Gen KMJA Derrick Kuto.
The LSK reinforcing the statement by KMJA said that once JSC has recommended judges, the president has no option but to appoint the judges and the failure of the president to not appointing the judges within 14 days was itself a violation of the law.
Amid the uproar, Chief Justice Lady Justice Martha Koome has asked the president to approve the nomination of the six judges terming not personal since the appointment happened 2 years ago. She said the courts require judges to solve and reduce the case log increasing at the courts.
“I wish to state that I had no part to play in this constitutional process which was undertaken almost two years ago. Upon forwarding the names to the president, the chief justice and the JSC became functus officio (ceased to have any role),” she stated.