Chief Justice David Maraga

Legal row over Kenya's acting Chief Justice

The appointment of a new Chief Justice for Kenya is turning into the nightmare that court-watchers had predicted – and the process still has a long way to go. Former CJ David Maraga officially stood down last week, having taken his outstanding leave from mid-December 2020. He leaves behind a number of unresolved conflicts between the judiciary on the one hand and the executive and legislature on the other.

Read judgment

When Kenya’s immediate past Chief Justice, David Maraga, announced he was taking leave pending his retirement in January 2021, he added that the Deputy Chief Justice, Philomena Mwilu, would take over as Acting Chief Justice from the time of his departure until someone was appointed to succeed him.

Kenya's Chief Justice shines YouTube light on tension with government

Tension is high between the judiciary and the government in a number of African countries at the moment. But so far only one – Kenya – has seen the Chief Justice come out with a full public statement exploring these problems. The statement, read by CJ David Maraga to a number of media houses, has been added toYouTube, and can now be accessed by anyone interested in the situation. Most of the CJ’s complaints related to the massive cuts to the budget of the judiciary and the impact of those cuts.

Watch the Chief Justice give his speech

Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga has won international respect for the brave decision made by himself and other members of the Supreme Court in setting aside the result of the August 2017 elections.

‘Brave’, because it would inevitably be seen as anti-government in a country where judges are increasingly expected not to rule against the ruling elite.

Good news - and bad - for African judiciary charged with wrong-doing

For two senior African judges, this is a particularly momentous month. Justice Joseph Wowo of Nigeria, former Chief Justice of Gambia, has been effectively exonerated by a regional court after his humiliating treatment at the hands of the courts in Gambia and his dismissal by the then-President, Yahya Jammeh. Justice Wowo has also been awarded significant damages for the way he was treated. But though his trials and tribulations may now be over, serious trouble is only just starting for a member of Kenya’s Supreme Court, Justice Jackton B. Ojwang’.

Justice Joseph Wowo, originally of Nigeria, was jailed on corruption charges in January 2014. His trial was seen by many as involving trumped-up charges and he has now won a kind of vindication via the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

In a special statement, the Ecowas court has announced that it has ordered Gambia to pay $200 000 in “nominal damages” to Justice Wowo. Unfortunately, however, no judgment has been released that explains the court's decision.

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