By NLM Writer
Justice Ojwang’ is abrasive and arrogant. Learned he may be but he delivers his opinion like it were legal fiat, the Law of Moses. He will not only demean those who would disagree with him but he refuses to confer with his peers as a proper superior bench should. A proper man of letters, Ojwang’ is the kind of man that was ready to resign rather than prostrate himself naked before “inferiors” within the JSC. He was on his way to delivering his resignation letter when a call came in asking him to stay put. As a reward for his many years of service as the State’s spanner boy, a friendly-enough tribunal would be set up to sanitise him – to embarrass the JSC and, by extension, the Chief Justice in the process.
President Uhuru Kenyatta wasn’t so keen on setting up the Tribunal to start with. He only did so reluctantly and with extreme bias. In naming its members, he merely read out a list handed to him by the State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua – the men he had entrusted the duty of composing it. The initial suggestion was for Prof Patricia Kameri Mbote to chair the Tribunal, but it was subsequently felt that her loyalty levels were not high enough to be trusted with delivering the desired verdict. In the same sitting where her name was suggested, Justice Alnashir’s Visram’s name was floated and immediately accepted.
Members of the Tribunal include Ojwang’s former students and associates. Mr. Ambrose Weda is not only a former student but he has also carried the Judge’s water all his life. In fact, one of Weda’s proudest achievements remains the ‘A’ Mwalimu Ojwang’ awarded him in his LLB dissertation which was based on (Prof. Ojwang’s) Cambridge thesis. News-loving Kenyans will also attest to Weda being a permanent fixture on early morning television where his analysis is never beyond a rambling appraisal of the President’s enemies.
Justice Festus Anzagalala is Ojwang’s friend and former colleague at the High Court. And considering the numerous briefs she has prosecuted before him on behalf of the Government, Lucy Muthoni Kambuni SC is, on the other hand, no doubt one of the Judge’s favourite litigants. Among others, Kambuni acted as counsel for the Electoral Commission in the 2013 and 2017 presidential election petitions as well as being the President’s Counsel to the Commission of Inquiry into the petition to suspend the Makueni County Government in 2015. Her close dalliance with the State has also seen the lawyer serve in many Boards, Commissions and Tribunals.
Sylvia Wanjiku Muchiri, meanwhile, is a relatively nondescript human rights practitioner who, unsurprisingly, serves under Mr Kinyua. Then there is Amina Abdalla, a long serving member of the Jubilee party and one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chief campaigners in Mombasa. Ms. Abdalla is also a close associate of Justice Njoki Ndung’u and has never been a fan of the JSC let alone judicial independence.
In many ways, the Tribunal is set up to fail – in the pursuit of institutional credibility and independence. Its members are not only the judge’s juniors in practice but they are also friends of the State. The tribunal’s composition is such a bad joke compared to the one that investigated Nacy Baraza DCJ (as she then was). Not only so, it shouldn’t be forgotten the tribunal is more about spiting Maraga and the JSC rebels than it is about saving Justice Ojwang’. In the state’s mind, Ojwang’ has served his purpose and will soon exit allowing them to replace him with another agreeable candidate. The least they can do for him is to allow him a dignified exit. (