Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia has assured the public that if appointed the next Chief Justice, his relation with President Uhuru Kenyatta will not compromise the independence of the Judiciary.
Ngatia who represented President Kenyatta in the 2013 and 2017 presidential election petitions downplayed the perception held by a section of Kenyans that he would be a biased Chief Justice owing to his relationship with Kenyatta.
The Senior Counsel who appeared at the Judicial Service Commission Committee chaired by Prof Olive Mugenda said that President Kenyatta was just a client like any other and has not in any way tried to influence him or interfere with his decisions.
He however said that he does not regret having represented the head of state, but was categorical that their relationship ended at the case.
“I was appointed in 2013 to lead a team for which I am forever grateful and in 2017 I was appointed to do the same. That was it,” Ngatia said.
The renowned lawyer reminded the committee that he is a Kenyan and should be seen on that basis and as such should not be discriminated because of any client that he has acted for.
“In my career I have acted for the high, poor and for those who are in terminal conditions. So please let me be judged for who I am,” he said, and pleaded for a holistic view from the committee.
Ngatia who was responding to the issue which was raised by JSC Commissioner Lawyer Macharia Njeru said he would not tolerate favoritism in his execution of his duties should he appointed the Chief Justice.
In his opening remarks before the committee, Ngatia vouched for himself as one of the most experienced lawyers in the country, as having virtually appeared in every court in the country, exuding confidence that that makes him the most suitable candidate for the position of Chief Justice.
Ngatia stated that he would “Incorporate All Hands-On Deck” in ensuring that the judges get to be appointed to ensure that the 41 judges who were recommended by JSC, are sworn in.
If appointed, Ngatia stated that he will oversee expeditious disposal of cases, so as to clear the backlog of cases the courts are currently having.
The Commission will interview all the shortlisted persons before recommending a candidate for appointment by the President subject to approval by the National Assembly as provided for under Article 166 (1) of the Constitution.
The three remaining candidates from the ten shortlisted include Justice William Ouko (Court of Appeal President), Dr Wekesa Moni and Ms Alice Yano.
By Alice Gworo