Wednesday July 15, 2020 – The race to succeed David Maraga as Chief Justice when he retires is in top gear and taking shape.
According to sources, President Uhuru Kenyatta is rooting for Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki as a possible replacement of Maraga.
Kariuki, formerly the President of the Court of Appeal, is being considered as a safe bet by State House mandarins eager to have a reliable gatekeeper at the corridors of justice.
However, Supreme Court Judge Smokin Wanjala is favoured by majority of lawyers.
According to a secret report compiled by various State agencies, if voting by lawyers was to determine the next CJ, Wanjala will definitely win.
He is seen as independent-minded juror like Maraga.
Other names that are being touted include East African Community judge Charles Nyachae, former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende, Supreme Court judge Njoki Ndung’u, Lady Justice Hannah Okwengu of Appeals Court and Solicitor General Ken Ogeto, and Justice Isaac Lenaola among others.
But according to sources, State House mandarins do not want a repeat of the 2017 scenario where Maraga led the bench in nullifying the presidential elections and that is why they want a reliable candidate for the CJ’s position, and that person is Kariuki.
Besides, Kariuki is a relative of Uhuru Kenyatta because his mother is the daughter of Senior Chief Koinange.
Kariuki is the son of the late bishop of Anglican Church Obadiah Kariuki and Lillian Wairimu, the daughter of Senior Chief Koinange.
It must be remembered that Uhuru’s father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, married his third wife, Grace Wanjiku, daughter of Senior Chief Koinange and sister of Mbiyu Koinange in 1946.
But Wanjiku died while giving birth in 1951 to their daughter, Jane Makena Wambui (also known as Jeni).
Jeni Makena Gecaga is the mother of Soiya Gecaga, Nana Gecaga, and Jomo Gecaga, who serves as the President’s Private Secretary.
State House sources intimated that Uhuru is keen to have the holder of the CJ’s position a person he can trust because he or she will be instrumental in the re-composition of the Supreme Court bench which will determine any petition challenging a presidential election in 2022.
Apart from blood ties with the first family, Kariuki is also emerging as the favourite candidate due to his past rulings as a judge which have tended to side with the Executive.
As the President of the Court of Appeal, he led the bench in overturning a ruling by High Court judge George Odunga that had declared the appointment of Returning Officers for the 2017 General Elections as not procedural, a day to the repeat presidential polls.
The Kenyan DAILY POST