Chief Justice David Maraga has urged Kenyans to reject any proposed constitutional amendments through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that may erode the independence of the Judiciary.
Speaking at the Supreme Court in Nairobi on Friday during the release of the State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Annual Report 2019/2020, the CJ stated any changes that threaten the independence of the third arm of government should be rejected forthwith.
He seemed to be referring to the contested BBI proposal on creation of an independent office of the Judiciary Ombudsman, whose holder shall be appointed by the President.
“We are going back to the period when the Judiciary was an appendage of the executive which Kenyans fought very hard to remove in passing the 2010 constitution,” he explained.
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga had on Wednesday defended the proposal saying the creation of the office of Judiciary Ombudsman will promote oversight of the arm of government.
“The Ombudsman will be interviewed by a panel and three names be submitted to the President who will pick one and send to parliament for vetting and finally be appointed by the President. How does that erode the independence of the judiciary?” Odinga posed.
The CJ, who is scheduled to proceed on terminal leave on December 15 before his retirement in January 2021, said that although he has not achieved everything he set out to do, he will retire a happy man.
During the address, Maraga once again faulted President Uhuru Kenyatta over the delayed appointment of 41 judges as ordered by court.
He asked the president to appoint the judges without further delay.
According to Maraga, since the president’s declaration that he would revisit the Supreme Court ruling that annulled the 2017 Presidential Election, the Judiciary has faced many challenges including budget cuts.
“It is on the record that the president promised to revisit, and we saw it in reduction of judiciary budget and that’s why the courts countrywide are yet to be completed,” he said.
“Irregular budget cuts disrupt judicial processes, there was a year when the ICT budget was wholly slashed or their budget not factored in, it is a miracle that we have continued to execute our mandate.”