In a scathing article published in February 2021, city lawyer Ahmed Nasir Abdullahi disparaged the former Chief Justice Maraga’s stay in office, asserting that the latter’s tenure was marked by judicial incompetence and political machinations.
While reexamining Justice Maraga’s record within the judicial system, Mr. Ahmednasir emphasized that the former chief justice lacked the academic, professional, and social fortitudes to deliver within the esteemed chambers of Kenya’s Supreme Court.
Undeniably, Justice Maraga made marginal contributions in the fight against corruption. He instead chose to focus on the infrastructural demands of the sector; building new courts, hiring more judges as opposed to addressing the deep-seated corruption that was eating away at the public trust within the judiciary. During his tenure, there were judges accused of taking bribes to influence the outcome of cases. Yet not once during his tenure were audits conducted on the processes, procedures, and judicial officer’s lifestyles that propagated such corruption.
With the Judicial Service Commission readying itself to choose Maraga’s successor, it is hoped that first; the recruitment process will be competitive and transparent. This will ensure that only the best candidate takes office. The best candidate, in this instance, should be a man or woman of personal and professional integrity. One whose name and the image are not already soiled by allegations of corruption; for it is only on this premise that the public will have confidence in their intentions to fight corruption.
Secondly, he or she must abhor corruption in both word and deed, and this will include decisively addressing the cause factors for corruption within the judiciary. It will be especially comforting if the successful candidate, as a matter of urgency, conducts a lifestyle audit for judges and magistrates to weed out the corrupt officials within the institution. That audit should trickle down to court clerks and other staff who aid and abet corruption in one way or the other.
Third, processes and procedures are important in the fight against corruption. And while we expect the executive and parliament to act within the law, it is paramount that the law and its attendant application facilitate justice as opposed to stifling it. To this end, addressing the hurdles that prevent the timely adjudication of corruption cases should be prioritized. In fact, there should be better regulations for the fast-tracking of corruption cases in our courts to provide the much-needed closure on matters of justice for economic crimes.
Indeed, Kenyans deserve a judiciary that focuses on their wellbeing and safeguards their hard-earned taxes.