Some lawyers have finally lifted the lid on the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) last Saturday’s convention characterised by shouting matches, microphone-grabbing and heckling.
Impeccable sources divulged that a desperate LSK president Allen Waiyaki Gichuhi, who had been staring at an impeachment motion, was forced to reach out to the outgoing lawyers body’s male nominee to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) senior counsel Tom Ojienda, for help to keep his job.
One source revealed that, Gichuhi requested Ojienda to prevail on his supporters to drop an impeachment motion against him so as to be tempered with some of the sections of the society code of conduct that stood on his way to JSC being expunged.
The motion seeking the removal of Gichuhi was among the three to be tabled during the lawyers’ conference held at the Bomas of Kenya.
However, during the meeting, there were only two motions listed; one seeking to remove a requirement on the society’s election code of conduct and the other pushing to have Ojienda barred from practising because of conflict of interest.
While the latter was defeated, the former was supported by the majority to drop provisions that were allegedly being used by the Executive to bar or frustrate lawyers perceived as hostile seeking positions at JSC. It was a major reprieve for Ojienda, who is seeking reelection to JSC in the May 9, poll.
In the majority decision, lawyers expunged the mandatory requirement that anyone seeking to represent LSK in JSC or any statutory body should submit clearance certificates from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Higher Education Loans Board. (Helb).
A total of 287 members against 190 voted to have it removed. Thus, in future all that one will need is a practicing certificate from LSK and a certificate of good conduct.
However, the deletion of the provision puts to question the commitment of lawyers to fully implement Chapter Six of the Constitution, Leadership, and Integrity Act of 2012.
“A state office is a position of public trust and the authority and responsibility vested in a state officer shall be exercised by the state officer in the best interest of the people of Kenya,” the Leadership and Integrity Act of 2012 reads in part.
It further states that a state officer in carrying out duties of the office, a state officer shall not violate the rights and fundamental freedoms of any person unless otherwise expressly provided for in the law and in accordance with Article 24 of the constitution.
Nevertheless, lawyer Nelson Havi, a hitherto defender of Ojienda revealed in an interview that the deleted sections were among the hurdles placed on the way of a major candidate in the upcoming elections.
“The members have determined by majority that requirement that had been placed before a major candidate can no longer hold,” Havi said even as he insisted matters in court would have to fall by the wayside.
Ojienda had sued KRA over its refusal to grant him a tax compliance certificate over a pending Sh444 million tax bill. In court papers, the senior counsel argued that denying him tax clearance certificate was calculated to sabotage his JSC bid.
Havi’s statement is shared by lawyer Irungu Gathii, who is seeking to dethrone Ojienda from JSC, maintaining that553ww KRA and HELB documents were being used to frustrate candidates seeking clearance from the statutory bodies.
He argues that elective and appointive positions vary as the former requires “a low-level of integrity”. “As professionals, our integrity level as lawyers is measured by the number of complaints and indiscipline cases filed with LSK,” Gathii told People Daily.
He added: “Some of these agencies like KRA, is a branch of the Executive, if they don’t like you they will deny you the crucial document,” he said.
In the other jurisdictions, Gathii explained the requirements have been used to bar and in some delist some candidates insisting that the state agencies are sometimes manipulated.