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Big names fall in race for Kenya’s CJ position

Posted by African Press International on July 13, 2016

By Kamau Muthoni | Wednesday, Jul 13th 2016 at 07:03

Retired judge Aaron Ringera is among those who were not shortlisted

NAIROBI: Big names were yesterday eliminated as the race to succeed retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was narrowed to six candidates.

Five judges and a former chairman of a team that wrote the Constitution made it to the shortlist released yesterday by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Judges Smokin Wanjala (Supreme Court), Alnashir Visram (Court of Appeal), Roselyne Nambuye (Court of Appeal), David Maraga (Court of Appeal), Msagha Mbogholi (High Court) and Senior Counsel Nzamba Kitonga, who chaired the Committee of Experts that wrote the Constitution, are in the running to head the Judiciary.

The list was whittled down from 14 applicants after the vacancy was announced following Dr Mutunga’s exit last month. Those who were locked out include retired judge Aaron Ringera, who once headed the anti-corruption agency, US-based law Professor Makau Mutua, Supreme Court judge Jackton Ojwang and Strathmore University lecturer Isaac Rutenberg.

Others are lawyer David Waihiga who also lost in the race to become chairman of Central Bank of Kenya two years ago, Lucy Wanja, a commissioner at the Commission for University Education and the Principal Administrative Secretary in Deputy President William Ruto’s office, Daniel Wambura

Little-known lawyers Kongani Kongani and Paul Andrew were also found unsuitable.

“The Judicial Service Commission has today reviewed the applications received for the position of Chief Justice for completeness and conformity with the Constitutional and statutory requirements, of the JSC Act and criteria outlined in the advertisement for the post,” JSC chairperson Margaret Kobia said in a statement.

“Although the commission has 30 days to conduct the reference checks, the background investigations and verification may continue until the time the commission votes on its nominees for the respective positions,” Prof Kobia said.

She also assured that the commission would invite the public to avail any information of interest to the commission in relation to any of the applicants.

“The JSC wishes to reiterate that in recruiting the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Supreme Court Judge, the commission will be strictly guided by constitutional principles and best practices, and shall conduct the exercise in a fair, just and transparent manner,” she said.

Justice Visram nearly became Kenya’s Chief Justice when retired President Mwai Kibaki nominated him to the position in 2011. But the nomination was contested by the Opposition then leading to a competitive process that saw Mutunga take the coveted position.

Visram was sworn in as a judge of the High Court in 2001 and in 2009, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal. Justice Maraga is a holder of masters and degree in law from the University of Nairobi, where he is an occasional guest lecturer. He is currently the Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal at Kisumu.

Maraga is also the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee on Elections. Before his appointment as a Judge of the High Court in October 2003 and promotion to the Court of Appeal in December 2011, he had been in private practice for 25 years covering criminal and civil litigation as well as conveyance.

Judge Nambuye, the only woman seeking top job, has had a long stint in the Judiciary, rising through the ranks from magistrate to a Court of Appeal judge. Judge Msagha was elected by the judges of the High Court principal judge. Kitonga was admitted to the bar in 1979 and served as chairman of the Law Society of Kenya in 1997. By virtue of his position at LSK, he also joined the East Africa Law Society Council.

JSC will shortlist the applicants for the Deputy Chief Justice today.

End. Standard news Kenya

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