BY TNLM REPORTER
The Supreme Court was to commence hearing an integrity case facing the chairman of the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission Mumo Matemu on March 5. Six judges were ready to hear the case but the hearing was postponed because Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was indisposed. The case is considered so important to the standing and authority of the court that the judges felt the chief justice must be part of the panel that eventually hears the case.
The country awaits the hearing with bated breath. Lawyers and legal scholars that the Nairobi Law Monthly spoke to said that the case is the most important decision the Supreme Court of Kenya will determine since the promulgation of the Constitution. In fact, according to some, the Matemu case is more important that the election petition between Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
According to Dennis Mosota, a council member of the Law Society of Kenya, the decision of the Supreme Court will be the defining legacy of both the Chief Justice and even the court.
“It will break or make the Supreme Court” Mosota says. He is emphatic that “if the Supreme Court authoritatively, robustly and practically enforced Chapter 6 of the Constitution, then both the court and CJ would have upheld the law and cemented their legacy. Anything else will be a disaster for both”.
According to the Secretary of the Law Society of Kenya, Apollo Mboya, the decision by the Supreme Court will definitively demonstrate to Kenyans whether or not Chapter Six is alive or dead. According Mboya the Supreme Court must authoritatively either breathe life into the clauses on integrity, or kill it for good, adding that the country needs an anti corruption body that is headed by brave men and women with impeccable integrity.
Even as the nation awaits the hearing, the Nairobi Law Monthly can authoritatively report that a scheme to lobby some of the judges in the Supreme Court had been hatched by groups and individuals who are known to call the shorts at Integrity Center. According to our source, very influential government officials, including cabinet secretaries, heads of constitutional bodies and influential lawyers, have been approached with a view to impress upon some of the judges that “Chapter 6 of the constitution is not cast in stone”.
According to someone privy to the strategy who spoke to NLM on condition that his identity is not disclosed, these groups are determined that Matemu is not hounded out of office”.
According to our source, the scheme to water down Chapter 6 through a decision of the Supreme Court targets and identifies four judges of the Court. This scheme is also pushed by holders of powerful offices in government who are scared of losing the protection against prosecution that they currently enjoy – influential businessmen who are beneficiaries of government tenders, drug barons and tribal chieftains.
Three judges of the High Court comprising Justices Mumbi Ngugi, Joel Ngugi and George Odunga initially heard the case, where they found Matemu unfit to hold office. That decision in 2012 was widely praised by both legal scholars, practitioners and the public.