The Jubilee Party on Thursday distanced itself from a petition filed by Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu to kick out Chief Justice David Maraga from office.
Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju disowned the petition, even as the opposition National Super Alliance claimed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party was behind the move by the first-time MP to force Justice Maraga out because he presided over the nullification of the August 8 presidential election.
Speaking to journalists at the Jubilee party secretariat in Nairobi, Mr Tuju said the petition was a private matter prosecuted by the MP.
“The petition is a Ngunjiri petition and not a Jubilee party case. But all I can say is that I have just received a copy of the petition and I am yet to go through it,” said Mr Tuju.
President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, angered by the nullification of their re-election, have in the past vowed to deal with Justice Maraga and the courts in case they are re-elected on October 17.
Mr Wambugu, in the 14-page petition presented to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), accuses the president of the Supreme Court of “gross misconduct”, claiming he has been held captive by a group of NGOs. Justice Maraga is also the chairperson of JSC.
Asked why he was introducing the petition at this time, Mr Wambugu asked, “If not now, when?” He accused Justice Maraga of orchestrating a regime change, “through judicial intervention, designed to controvert the authority” of the people.
In his 14-page petition, the MP claimed the Judiciary has been held captive by a click of NGOs, which have been against President Kenyatta’s presidency since 2013. He said after failing to block President Kenyatta in 2013, including the case filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the NGOs control the Judiciary and they influenced the decision by the Supreme Court to nullify the outcome of the August 8, presidential election.
The CJ can be removed from the office on grounds of inability to perform his duties due to mental or physical health, a breach of conduct, bankruptcy, incompetence or gross misconduct.
The removal, Article 168 of the Constitution says, can be initiated only by the JSC acting on its own motion, or through a petition to the commission.
The commission, if satisfied with the grounds raised in the petition, shall inform the President in writing, leading to the formation of a tribunal comprising the Speaker of the National Assembly, three Supreme Court judges, an advocate and two other persons to investigate the judge.
Mr Wambugu claimed that the CJ has had numerous telephone conversations with lawyers acting for or supporting the National Super Alliance (Nasa). He accuses Justice Maraga of violating Regulation 12 of the Judicial Code of Conduct and Ethics, gross misconduct and abuse of office.
He also accuses Justice Maraga of “deliberately delaying” the delivery of judgment, which nullified the August 8, presidential election.
The court, by a majority decision, nullified the presidential election and said they will issue a full judgment after 21 days. Two judges — Jackton Ojwang’ and Njoki Ndung’u dissented and dismissed the petition. The 21 days will lapse on Thursday.
Mr Wambugu says details of the judgment will be critical since they will help the Independent Electoral and boundaries Commission understand the court orders. He says it was wrong for the court to subvert the will of Kenyans.
In Parliament, MPs from Abagusii community, where the CJ also comes from, asked Mr Wambugu to immediately withdraw the petition, saying it was in bad taste, coming a day after the President met an Abagusii delegation at State House in Nakuru.
The seven MPs who were led by Deputy Majority leader in the National Assembly Jimmy Angwenyi, said the decision by the Supreme Court to nullify the re-election of President Kenyatta was a collective one and therefore Chief Justice David Maraga should not be targeted.
“We are asking the MP to immediately withdraw the petition or all Kisii leaders will be enjoined in the case. We feel the case is in bad taste and is targeting an individual from the Kisii region,” Mr Angwenyi said at a press conference in Parliament, adding that it is premature to file a petition against the Chief Justice when even the full judgment had not been released.
“Mr Wambugu has no business attacking CJ. We met the President on Wednesday and he explained his anger to us on the ruling,” he said. He was with MPs Zadock Ogutu (Bomachoge Borabu), Jerusha Momanyi (Woman Representative, Nyamira), Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango), Shadrack Mose (Kitutu Masaba), Richard Tongi (Nyaribari Chache) and Ezekiel Machogu (Nyaribari Masaba).
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria also criticised his colleague, saying the petition was misplaced and Mr Wambugu was “grossly out of order”.
Reports by Sam Kiplagat, Silas Apollo and David Mwere