ODM Party leader Raila Odinga has told off former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga for questioning President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to reject six judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission.
Mr Odinga said the Dr Mutunga lacks the moral authority to lecture anyone on upholding constitutionalism after his controversial on the 2013 presidential election petition.
He reminded the former President of Supreme Court that he affirmed that Mr Kenyatta, whom he was now bashing through open letter, was validly elected by dismissing the election petition filed by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) on flimsy grounds.
“We brought our election petition before Justice Mutunga in 2013, everyone was surprised when he dismissed our evidence on grounds that it had been filed late” a visibly annoyed Mr Odinga said at the burial of former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile at Mbui Nzau in Makueni County.
Mr Odinga wondered why Dr Mutunga was saying there was no justice in President Kenyatta’s action and yet he denied the same to millions of Kenyans when he dismissed the Cord petition.
“Which court in the world would do what Chief Justice Mutunga did?” the former Prime Minister posed, adding his coalition offered abundant evidence of malpractices to overturn the presidential election results.
The former prime minister insisted that he won the 2013 presidential election but chose to respect the Supreme Court’s ruling because he believed in the rule of law.
“In 2017, we followed the same procedure and presented our evidence before the Supreme Court, then under Chief Justice David Maraga, but the presidential election was nullified” said Mr Odinga.
In an open letter earlier this week, Dr Mutunga asked President Kenyatta to rescind his decision that barred the recent appointment of six Judges.
Dr Mutunga said that the Presidents’ objection to the six judges’ nomination was driven by personal resentment and not principle.
“The scientific formulation in the Constitution on the appointment of judges was intended to be an antidote to this kind of whimsical and capricious presidential conduct as it is being seen in ugly display in this matter,” Mutunga said
He spoke days after the President gazetted the appointment of 34 out of the 40 judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to join various courts, among them the Court of Appeal, in 2018.
According to Dr Mutunga, there is a process of raising an issue against a sitting judge or a judicial officer, and that the judiciary’s independence is not negotiable.
“JSC has been tested on these issues and has dealt openly and fairly with complaints against judges of ranks even higher than the Court of Appeal… In the recruitment of the 41 judges, the president did not present any adverse reports at the appropriate (sic) leaving JSC with no option but to make recommendations for appointment… That points to bad faith, and most likely, the absence of any actionable information on the judges,” Dr Mutunga added.
The former CJ urged the president to immediately appoint the judges as stipulated in the Constitution.
“The president must resist the temptation to be garlanded in the pettiness of performing power, particularly by those who have built a thriving pettiness cottage industry, completely consumed by the pursuit of a personal vendetta at the expense of national good,” he said.
On his part, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed who had also attended Kalembe’s burial ceremony, took a swipe against former CJ Maraga for asking MPs to impeach President Kenyatta, yet he ruled that the National Assembly was illegitimate.
“I heard retired Chief Justice David Maraga asking MPs to impeach the president and I got confused because he is the one who had earlier written a letter to Kenyatta asking him to dissolve parliament. He has probably forgotten the letter he wrote,” Mr Mohammed said.