JUDICIARY UNDER SIEGE?

Muhuri accuses Executive of intimidating the Judiciary

Four judges have recused themselves from a case challenging the government-supported BBI.

In Summary

• The petition was filed on January 13 and Muhuri and Katiba Institute joined the case as interested parties.

• Muhuri director Ghulam said already, one of the restraining orders sought, which was blocking the extension of the mandate and tenure of the BBI taskforce, has been overtaken by time.

Muhuri acting executive director Rahma Ghulam, chairman Khelef Khalifa and rapid response officer Francis Auma at their offices on Thursday.
WORRIED Muhuri acting executive director Rahma Ghulam, chairman Khelef Khalifa and rapid response officer Francis Auma at their offices on Thursday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

A lobby group has accused the government of intimidating judges into abandoning a case in which the BBI activities are being questioned.

 

Muslims for Human Rights on Thursday said they have noticed a pattern in which judges have been recusing themselves from a petition filed by rights activist Okiya Omtatah seeking to quash the BBI and all its activities.

The petition was filed on January 13 and Muhuri and Katiba Institute joined the case as interested parties.

So far, all four judges in the Judicial Review and Constitutional and Human Rights division of the High Court in Nairobi have recused themselves from the case.

Muhuri feels it is a delay tactic.

“It is evident that judges are being intimidated,” he said at the Muhuri offices in Nyali on Thursday.

Judge John Mativo certified the case as urgent and set its mention before Judge Weldon Korir.

On January 27, Korir recused himself from the case after declining Muhuri’s on empanelment of an uneven number of judges to hear the case.

 
 

“He said he had declined a similar request in a separate suit and was unlikely to change his mind,” said Muhuri chairman Khelef Khalifa.

Korir referred the case to Judge Mativo for mention.

On March 11, Mativo recused himself from a case in which he had, in a separate suit seven days earlier, issued a judgement that allowed BBI activities to proceed.

He sent the file to Judge Pauline Nyamweya, who on April 29 also disqualified herself from the case.

She sent it to Judge James Makau for mentioning.

Makau on July 13 recused and returned the file to Judge Korir, who again, disqualified himself.

“On Wednesday, principal judge Lydia Achode sent the file to Chief Justice David Maraga for mention of notice,” said Khalifa.

Muhuri acting executive director Rahma Ghulam said already, one of the restraining orders sought, which was blocking the extension of the mandate and tenure of the BBI taskforce, has been overtaken by time.

She lamented that the delay could be tactic by the government to ensure time overtakes all elements of the suit.

“How can a matter that was certified urgent in January not be heard almost seven months later?” posed Ghulam.

Khalfa said the BBI is not about changing the law per se but about rewarding loyalists with plum government positions.

“We want to know who funds this BBI? Is it the taxpayer or who?” said Khalifa.

He said the way the BBI is being shoved down the throats of Kenyans is questionable.

“We hear that some Sh10 billion has been set aside for the BBI. From which source? The exchequer, which is public money, or their own individual pockets, which we doubt?” said Khalifa.

In December last year, Muhuri wrote Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, through the Access to Information Act, requesting information about the funding of the BBI.

“To date, our request letter has not been responded to, seven months later. The law requires that such letter be responded to within three weeks,” said Khalifa.

He said heading into the 2022 general elections, it is dangerous for judges to be intimidated.

“The public is fast losing confidence in the Judiciary and this is very dangerous,” Khalifa said.