Our courts are facing crisis of confidence and must reform

Friday March 22 2019

The recent decision by the Supreme Court on Wajir gubernatorial election petition has put Judiciary on the limelight.

A divided bench upheld the election of Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi, overturning the decision by the Court of Appeal and the High Court which had nullified the election.

The uproar on social media that followed decision, however, put the court in the crosshairs of the petitioner’s lawyers who read mischief in the ruling.

At the centre of the dispute is the governor’s academic qualifications. It is a mandatory constitutional requirement that a governor must be a degree holder.

The Court of Appeal and High Court had in the judgments ruled that the governor did not meet the requirements to run for a public office.

However, four of Supreme Court judges dismissed this argument, saying the degree issue is a pre-election requirement; hence the governor’s victory could not be revoked on that ground.

Further, the judges noted that Governor Abdi has been conducting himself as a degree holder although they failed to illustrate how degree holders conduct themselves.

This is just one among other election cases the Supreme Court has upheld considered ridiculous by a section of the legal fraternity. The Supreme Court has been accused not only for some of their judgements but also the manner in which some judges have based their arguments.

In a country governed by the law, the Judiciary is supposed to be independent. Judicial officers are expected to work in tandem with other arms of the government to ensure fair and transparent justice.

However, following some recent court decisions we are left wondering where the Kenyans courts are headed.

For instance, in another interesting ruling, a senior resident magistrate at the Kiambu Law Courts made a landmark declaration that drunk driving is not an offence as long as the driver is capable of being in control of the vehicle.

Judges must strive to issues well-reasoned judgments and must rely on legal norms while making rulings.

Maureen Odira, Nairobi.