Uhuru has 'list of hate', Mutunga says over six judges

Mutunga says it is only fair that Uhuru appoints the six judges.

In Summary

• In the letter dated June 8, the former CJ accused the President of having a 'list of hate' and being stubborn.

• Mutunga urged the president to immediately appoint the judges whom he called exceptional.

Former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. / FILE
Former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. / FILE

Retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has weighed in on the move by President Uhuru Kenyatta to reject the appointment of some judicial officers last week.

Mutunga says 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 is being seen in ugly display in this matter," Mutunga said in a letter addressed to Uhuru.

"This is not the time to commence muck-racking adventures in a feeble and abominable attempt to besmirch the character of the  judges and judicial officers."

In the letter dated June 8, the former CJ accused the President of having a 'list of hate' and being stubborn.

"Strikingly, the presidential 'list of hate' has even mysteriously changed , meaning the objection to the judges is driven more by personal pique rather than principle. That is not the way to conduct the serious business of state," he said.

Mutunga urged the president to immediately appoint the judges whom he called exceptional.

"The president must resist the temptation to be garlanded in the pettiness of preforming power, particularly by those who have built a thriving pettiness cottage industry, completely consumed by the pursuit of personal vendetta at the expense of national good," he said.

Last week, the Uhuru declined to gazette names of the six, saying there were issues on their suitability.

High Court judges Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Weldon Korir and Aggrey Muchelule as well as chief magistrate Evans Makori and High Court Registrar Judith Omange now walk with clouds of uncertainty hanging over their shoulders as the President keeps his cards under the table.

Their rejection puts their integrity into question and is likely to bring them into disrepute.

Of interest is whether the Head of State will appear in person before JSC or task NIS director General Maj Gen Phillip Kameru to testify before the commission. 

Lawyers argue that if indeed Uhuru had adverse reports against the six, he should have formally filed a complaint against them at JSC for a tribunal to be formed to investigate them.

If the President formally files complaints then careers of the six might be on the line depending on the nature of evidence.

However, legal experts and human rights activists have described the President's action career-threatening, saying his move is likely to dent the careers and erode public confidence in the judges.

They said Uhuru’s refusal to appoint the six could see litigants expressing no confidence in the cases pending before them.

Lawyer Shadrack Wambui says the rejection of the six has dented their careers.