Ruto hits back at Raila in row over JSC probe

Written By Michael Maunda on Sunday, December 1, 2013 | 8:36 PM

Deputy President William Ruto Sunday hit back at Cord leader Raila Odinga who on Saturday accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of violating the Constitution.
Mr Odinga said Mr Kenyatta’s decision to appoint a tribunal to investigate six members of the Judicial Service Commission over financial impropriety had “put the new Constitution under threat.”
But dismissing Mr Odinga, Mr Ruto said President Kenyatta acted within the Constitution when he appointed the tribunal to investigate the six officials who have been suspended over allegations of financial impropriety in the Judiciary.
The six have also been accused of allegedly blocking police investigations into a Sh80 million fraud case involving the Judiciary.
Those suspended are Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi, Prof Christine Mango, Mr Justice Mohamed Warsame, Ms Florence Mwangangi, Ms Emily Ominde and Dr Samuel Kobia.
The President also appointed Mr Justice (retired) Aaron Ringera to chair the four-member tribunal that will investigate the six, a decision that was sharply criticised by the Law Society of Kenya.
“Scales of responsibility apply to all Kenyans and all institutions including all arms of the government which cannot escape accountability,” said Mr Ruto who had attended a church service in Meru.

“Those complaining about the government should read the Bible and the Constitution as well to understand what responsibility is all about.”
Other Jubilee leaders led by Senate Majority Kithure Kindiki and Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen accused Mr Odinga of frustrating the government’s efforts in serving Kenyans.

“They have opposed Nyumba Kumi initiative, the issuance of title deeds and now Cord condemns the presidency for working in line with its constitutional mandate,” said Mr Kindiki.
Run the government
Mr Murkomen also said President Kenyatta had made no mistake in appointing the tribunal while North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood accused Cord of stifling efforts to run the government.
“The coalition government is no more. Our friends in Cord should remain awake to this reality and join the current government to work for Kenyans instead of repeatedly criticising us,” he said.
In Kirinyaga, a governor and an MP defended Mr Kenyatta and accused Mr Odinga of meddling in the workings of the government.
Governor Joseph Ndathi and area MP Gachoki Gitari said the President had executed his duties according to the Constitution and asked Mr Raila to stop interfering in the running of government affairs.
Speaking at Kamuiru Catholic Church in Kirinyaga Central constituency, the two defended the decision to suspend the JSC members and set up a tribunal to investigate them.
Mr Gitari accused Mr Raila of not being sincere in his criticism of Mr Kenyatta.
“When he lost the poll petition he dismissed the Judiciary and now he is defending it,” he said.
In Nairobi, the director of public communication at State House, Mr Munyori Buku, also defended Mr Kenyatta’s decision.
In a statement, Mr Buku said: “The law provides that the President appoints a chair who has held the position of a judge of a superior court, at least two lawyers who qualify to be judges of the High Court and an expert in the matter at hand.” He said Mr Ringera and the other three lawyers all fit the bill.
He also denied claims that the Judiciary would be paralysed because six of the JSC commissioners have been suspended. The commission has 11 members and requires a quorum of at least six to transact its business. With only five members remaining, the commission cannot make any decisions.
The Law Society of Kenya at the weekend said that the tribunal formed by the President was unconstitutional and its appointment would paralyse the operations of the Judiciary.
But the President’s spokesman said this was far from the truth as “the JSC is not the Judiciary”.
LSK had also said that Mr Ringera was not the best choice for the tribunal chair because he had earlier applied to become a Supreme Court judge and the JSC had rejected his application, after which he publicly cricised the JSC. By heading the tribunal to investigate the members who rejected his job application, the LSK argued, Mr Ringera would be in a conflict of interest.