Justice Martha Koome made history on Friday when she was sworn in as Kenya’s first female Chief Justice at State House, two days after the National Assembly approved her nomination to the position.
After taking the oath of office, Justice Koome vowed to uphold the Constitution of Kenya, in an event witnessed by Attorney General Kihara Kiriuki, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi, among others.
Congratulating Koome upon her swearing-in, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was honoured that the ascension of the first female head of the Judiciary occurred during his tenure. She becomes Kenya’s fifteenth chief justice.
President Kenyatta called on Koome to honour the affirmation she took before assuming the duties of the Chief Justice.
The head of state went on to wish the 15th Chief Justice the best of luck and assured her of cooperation and support in her duties.
“I am singularly honoured to be the first President to swear in the first female Chief Justice. It is not for me to tell you how to execute your work or what you are going to do. Just to remind you of the oath you have taken,” said President Kenyatta, before proceeding to read out Koome’s oath, “…to diligently serve the people and the Republic of Kenya and to impartially do Justice in accordance with this Constitution as by law established, and the laws and customs of the Republic, without any fear, favour, bias, affection, ill-will, prejudice or any political, religious or other influence.…’”.
The swearing-in comes against a backdrop of a tussle pitting the Judiciary and the Executive, especially over the appointment of 41 judges to the Appellate Court, disregard of court orders and scathing remarks by politicians allied to the ruling party, Jubilee, over the High Court’s declaration that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process to amend the Constitution as unconstitutional.
Justice Maraga lambasted the Executive for its stance on the appointment of judges, the numerous court orders yet to be complied with and accused the State of trying to control the Judiciary.
“They are trying to control the Judiciary. They want to make us puppets. Some CSs are saying I will go before the year ends, kumbe hii Kenya ina wenyewe. I don’t serve under the mercy of anybody,” said Maraga at the steps of the Supreme Court.
He added: “The president is obliged by two court orders to appoint those 41 judges. His disregard for court order does not bode well for our constitutional democracy and is potentially a recipe for anarchy.”
During the tenure of Justice Koome’s predecessor, Justice David Maraga, the Judiciary repeatedly decried low budgetary allocations by the Treasury which forced it to abandon some of its projects. But, it wasn’t lost to observation that bad blood between and the Executive had a role in the enmity, what with the President having had declared that “we shall revisit” after the Supreme Court annulled his victory in the 2017 elections.
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