Maraga office downplays report on judges' security

Chief Justice David Maraga at the Supreme Court on October 25, 2017. Photo | Jeff Angote | Nairobi
Chief Justice David Maraga at the Supreme Court on October 25, 2017. Photo | Jeff Angote | Nairobi 

The Judiciary has denied reports that the government turned down a request by Supreme Court judges for extra security after one of their bodyguards was shot, preventing them from holding a hearing that could have delayed last week’s presidential election.

A statement from the Judiciary said that the judges’ security had in fact been enhanced, terming reports to the contrary by Reuters news agency untrue.

The news agency quoted a senior judicial source, saying the police was yet to respond to demand for extra security for the judges.

Centre stage

The court has been centre stage since it annulled an August 8 vote won by President Uhuru Kenyatta, citing procedural irregularities and ordering a repeat vote within 60 days.

The decision was the first of its kind in Africa, where governments often hold sway over judges. It angered some of Mr Kenyatta’s supporters, who said the judges had thwarted the will of the people.

Mr Kenyatta won 98 per cent of the vote in the October 26 re-run after opposition leader Raila Odinga boycotted it on the grounds it would not be fair because the election board had failed to implement reforms he sought after the court decision.

Last minute

The Supreme Court had been due to meet on October 25 to deliberate on an eleventh-hour request to delay the re-run.

But the day before, the bodyguard of its deputy chief justice was shot as he bought pot plants beside a highway.

Only Chief Justice David Maraga turned up for the October 25 hearing.

Without a minimum quorum of five judges, Justice Maraga said the court could not make a ruling on the petition, paving the way for the election re-run to go ahead.

Asked about the request by the judges, Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said security for all judges was enhanced in the wake of the shooting.

“If anybody is telling you to the contrary, they are not telling the truth,” he told Reuters.