Ruto’s first order: To appoint 6 remaining judges of Court of Appeal
President William Ruto has issued his first order after taking over the office. Giving his first speech as the head of state, Dr Ruto said that he will appoint six judges rejected from the list recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and preside over their swearing in tomorrow.
“To further demonstrate my commitment to the independence of the Judiciary, this afternoon, I will appoint the six judges already nominated for appointment to the Court of Appeal which was done three years ago by the JSC,” said President Ruto.
On June 3, 2021, outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed 34 of the 40 candidates nominated by JSC. The former president however rejected the nominations of High Court Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Aggrey Muchelule and Weldon Korir to the Appellate court, as well as chief magistrate Evans Makori and High Court registrar Judith Omange, citing integrity and suitability issues.
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While witnessing the swearing-in of the 34 judges on June 4, 2021, President Kenyatta said he took an oath to uphold “both the letter and the spirit of the law; and it is not open to him to turn a blind eye to reports of state organs”.
The former Head of State said his decision was based on intelligence reports on the judges he omitted on his list from that recommended by the JSC in 2019.
“Just like the judges, I too took an oath. As long as I serve as President, I will choose right over the convenient, choose the hard over the easy. I am not doing this for myself but for the people of Kenya and for posterity,” he said.
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However, Dr Ruto would later say that he agreed with former Chief Justices David Maraga and Willy Mutunga that a president is constitutionally bound to appoint all judges nominated by the JSC. Dr Ruto said the six should not be condemned unheard.
“The people who are better-versed matters law and constitution – the former Chief Justices Willy Mutunga and David Maraga – have said clearly that the right thing that should have happened was for all judges to be appointed and subsequently, if there are integrity issues on any judge, then the normal process that involves a tribunal, and those judges being subjected to due process, should have been followed,” Dr Ruto said then.
A few months later, the Court of Appeal temporarily suspended an order directing Mr Kenyatta to swear in six judges within two weeks which he did not.
Justices Roselyn Nambuye, Wanjiru Karanja and Imaana Laibuta granted the orders after the former President rushed to the Appellate court arguing that there is an eminent danger of embarrassment and uncertainty in the dispensation of justice, if the directive remains unchallenged.
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