The Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) has condemned verbal attacks against five of its members who made the BBI judgement on Thursday, May 13.
The five-judge bench of the High Court comprising of Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita, and Teresia Matheka declared the process to amend the 2010 Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) unconstitutional, null and void, a ruling that caught many including the BBI proponents by surprise.
A section of the political class took to the mainstream and social media to criticize the judges, accusing them of judicial activism.
But in a statement released on Tuesday evening, KMJA Secretary General Derrick Kuto termed the verbal attacks as retrogressive further calling on government security agencies to ensure safety of the judges.
“We call upon the Inspector General of Police to immediately investigate the said utterances with a view to prosecuting the culprits,” the statement reads in part.
“The Cabinet Secretary in charge of the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government should immediately assure Kenyans that our judges and judicial Officers are safe given the sensitive nature of their assignments.
“We also urge the relevant officers of the government to immediately engage the judiciary to ensure the security of all judges, magistrates and kadhis.”
Reiterating the independence of the third arm of government, Okuto said the aggrieved parties that have moved to court should allow the court to handle the matter and in the event of dissatisfaction, a further appeal be made to the Supreme Court without resorting to any personal attacks.
“Kenyans would recall that in 2007-2008, this country plunged into chaos partly because there was no faith in the Kenyan courts then. The loud voice of Kenyans on the independence of the judiciary in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 cannot, therefore, be ignored,” he added.
“That many petitions were filed in court over the BBI case and that many Kenyans generally litigate their issues in court, is a testament of their faith in this arm of government. This is what entails the rule of law as opposed to anarchy and impunity.
“‘Wanjiku’ should therefore be concerned at those who wish to take us back to the 80’s and 90’s where the judiciary was perceived to be an appendage of the Executive.
He urged Kenyans of goodwill to frown upon those who wish to castigate judges for doing their work and ultimately bring down the judiciary for their selfish interests.
BBI is a product of the March 9, 2018, political truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Before the Thursday verdict, the BBI bill had been passed by the National Assembly and the Senate and was awaiting a presidential assent, after which Kenyans would have headed to a referendum before next year’s elections.
In their ruling, the judges ruled that a popular initiative can only be initiated by the people and not the President.