Tuju tells Judges not to undermine President Kenyatta
Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju has sensationally warned High Court judges not to ‘frustrate’ the government that offers them ‘protection’.
While speaking in an interview with NTV, the seasoned politician, who also is a Cabinet Secretary without a portfolio reminded the judges that they depend on the same government they were reportedly fighting and frustrating.
“Judges should learn the word ‘interdependence’ because as soon as they finish a ruling, they need policemen to escort them home as guards or drivers. The world is much more complicated. We are a little more humble than the judges who say this is what is, period! If you don’t like it, period!”
His sentiments came a few days after a five-judge bench declared the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) irregular, illegal and unconstitutional.
The BBI bill is considered a brainchild of President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga. It seeks to, among others, change the constitution so as to allow the increase in funding at the grassroots and increase political positions within the executive.
Tuju meanwhile also called out the judges for not respecting the head of state saying that the “High Court judges were not courteous to the President by referring to him as ‘Mr’, and also limiting his powers in his role as a symbol of national unity.
“The judges who ruled on this matter and even insinuated that the President has no say on this matter, I would call it selective reading of a constitution. In Article 10 of the constitution, the President has the responsibility for national unity.”
Justices Teresia Matheka, Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, and Chacha Mwita – on Thursday, May 13 in a landmark case ruled that the BBI initiative was unconstitutional and that President Uhuru Kenyatta failed to respect, uphold and safeguard the Constitution by initiating a referendum.
Tuju also stressed the President listens to legal advice from his team before speaking.
“The President is the President of the whole country. It is wise that he listens to his legal advisers before he talks about this. When it comes to the court, we have to navigate very carefully,” he said.
Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi responded to Tuju’s sentiments by warning him that Kenya was not the Uganda of the 1970s.
“Raphael Tuju, hear and get me loud and clear. Your behaviour seems to know no limit. Judges volunteer to serve in an Arm of Government. Their security is not a privilege but a right. This is not the Uganda of the 1970s. Cross that line again and you will live to regret it,” he warned.
In the hard-hitting ruling, the judges singled out multiple legal blunders that President Kenyatta committed in his desire for law reforms.
They said the Head of State made a fatal legal mistake in attempting to change the Constitution through a popular initiative, an avenue that is not available to him.
They also ruled that the BBI constitutional committee, a body created by the president, was illegal, adding that Mr Kenyatta had failed the leadership and integrity test.
They warned that the president could be sued in his personal capacity.
The judgement was arguably the most significant ruling by Kenyan courts since Mr Kenyatta’s election win was nullified in 2017.
Odinga has since expressed disappointment with the judgement of the High Court but warned politicians against personalised attacks against the court.
The former Prime Minister likened the judgement to moments of danger and peril that have characterised Kenya’s struggle for constitutional reforms.
“I urge that we restrain from personalised attacks on the court and its members. We may disagree with the court but we must respect its ruling and its freedom to exercise its judgment as it understands the legal and constitutional matters before it,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
The debate has dominated Kenya’s politics for the past two years and is closely linked to the battle to succeed Mr Kenyatta, who is due to step down in 2022.