House committee ‘approves’ Koome for Chief Justice job

Monday, May 17th, 2021 00:00 | By
Chief Justice nominee Martha Koome takes oath before she was vetted by the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee on Thursday. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

Justice Martha Koome is poised to take over as the next Chief Justice after a House committee unanimously approved her nomination, according to our sources.

Legislators who sit in the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee who sought anonymity said although they will be meeting tomorrow at the Windsor Hotel to finalise on the report, members were all in agreement Koome fits the billing as the head of the Judiciary.

According to the MPs, tomorrow’s meeting will be to go through the final draft report and formally signing for it to be presented to the House for debate.

Insiders within Parliament said the National Assembly is expected to hold a Special Sitting either Wednesday or Thursday to either approve or reject Koome.

“We have generally agreed we approve her, there are no contentions among members on this not unless somebody comes up with a very compelling reason for us to reject her. This is a closed matter,” said an MP.

Formal appointment

Once the committee finalises its report, it is supposed to table it before plenary where MPs are expected to debate on it and either approve or reject it.

Should the legislators approve her candidature, her name will be forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta for formal appointment.

President Uhuru forwarded Justice Koome’s name to Parliament on April 28 for vetting following her nomination by the Judicial Service Commission. 

The National Assembly Standing Orders provide that the committee should notify Justice Koome and public of the time and place of holding the approvals.

During the vetting exercise, Koome said fighting corruption will be on her top most agenda if approved by Parliament. 

Having admitted that corruption still remains a systemic big problem in the country, she called for collaboration with other Government organs, including the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to ensure Judiciary is free from  graft.

“The services that we render must engender confidence in Kenyans. We are  paid to render services, and therefore no member of the public should pay a judicial officer for anything,” she said.

If appointed and sworn in to office by the end of this week, her first task will be to constitute a bench to hear an appeal case against the decision rendered by the a five-judge Bench last week Thursday.

JSC settled on her as she was, and was considered as “a safe pair of hands” to steer one of the most crucial arms of government, Judiciary insiders said.

During the interview session, Koome beat nine other candidates including Justice Marete Njagi, lawyer Philip Murgor, Justice Said Chitembwe, law scholar Prof Patricia Mbote, Justice Nduma Nderi, Senior Counsel Fredrick Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Prof Moni Wekesa and lawyer Alice Yano.

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