LSK tusstle; Why Lawyers are rooting for Tom Ojienda’s election to office

LSK president Allen Gichuhi yesterday was dealt a blow in bid to lock out lawyer Tom Ojienda from the Judicial Service Commission after the Law Society of Kenya council decided to retain all the five candidates cleared for election of male representative to the JSC.
But Gichuhi denied fighting Ojienda, saying the matter before the council was about the rule of law. “It’s nothing to do with me having Ojienda locked out. The rule has to be followed, just as simple as that,” he said.
“The Constitution and the electoral code of conduct set the minimum standard required. That is what I have been fighting for. I am not favouring any candidate, just the law.”
A source at a closed-door meeting convened by Gichuhi told the a section of media that the council declined to review and retained the nominees as approved on February 11.

Others on the list are Alex Gatundu, former Ipoa chairman Macharia Njeru, former Kiambu speaker Gathii Irungu and Charles Ongoto. “The council has refused to review. The decision made by the election committee on February 11 stands,” the council member said.
Gichuhi called the meeting to review the list on grounds that lawyers Ojienda and Gathii’s nominations were approved without consideration of the council’s recommendations.He had differed with the council’s decision to clear all five candidates, saying Ojienda and Gathii did not meet the criteria.
Ojienda was disqualified for lacking a tax compliance certificate while the ex-speaker was left out for presenting his nomination papers late.The move caused a fissure in the LSK, with members backing Ojienda’s bid threatening to quit and form a splinter lawyer’s society.
A Court of Appeal ruling on early February stood with the decision made by the High Court on December last year, compelling the LSK to approve the nominees.A faction of the LSK members said Ojienda’s woes followed political interests in the JSC, a key agency charged with the recruitment of Supreme Court judges.
Lawyers Brian Odongo and Mwaura Kabata said the plan to block the lawyer from the JSC is by people who want to “have state-friendly appointees” at the commission ahead of the 2022 General Election.
There will be vacancies at the apex court before the general election a time when Chief Justice David Maraga is expected to leave office in 2021. Justice Jackton Ojwang’ will also leave after Maraga, and so will one or two other apex court judges.

The lawyers said the tax compliance grounds cited by Gichuhi do not hold water in the election of nominees to the 12-member commission. “Government has three clear slots in the JSC, excluding the Attorney General. They would want an influence in the election of the other eight commissioners, hence the bid to remove Ojienda,” Kabata said.
Odongo said “the tax issue is unknown. Furthermore, Justices Fridah Okwany and George Odunga had settled the matter pitting Ojienda against KRA.”
There was a protest at Intercontinental Hotel the venue of the meeting, by a section of the LSK members to press for the chairman’s removal citing violations of the society’s meeting procedures.
They said the clamour to review the decision was suspect. They waved placards inscribed ‘Allen Must Go’, ‘Reclaim Captured LSK’, ‘Deep State Puppet’, alluding that the state had a hand in Ojienda woes.

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