Martha Koome’s Wealth Concealed During Vetting

Court of Appeal judge Martha Koome appearing before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Wednesday, April 14
  • Newly appointed Chief Justice Martha Koome was offered a reprieve from MPs and the public who were seeking details of her net worth.  

    The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) withheld a file containing her wealth declaration from the delegated Parliamentary committee tasked with approving her nomination. 

    Unlike her predecessors and other officials seeking public office, Koome’s details were kept under wraps with JSC officials privy to her statements. 

    “She had declared it (net worth) to the Judicial Service Commission before her televised interview. 

    Court of Appeal judge Martha Koome appearing before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Wednesday, April 14

    “We were only to approve or reject the nomination. We didn’t look at or for her net worth,” Kangema MP Kigano Clement Muturi, chairman of the Judicial And Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) stated. 

    The MPs, however, urged Koome to protect the constitution especially at a time when President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga are seeking to amend the laws. 

    Ruto allies asked Koome to also protect judiciary officials from attacks fronted by the Executive. This was aligned with onslaughts by Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju and Sports CAS Zack Kinuthia who hinted that the 5-judge bench that annulled the BBI bill may face consequences. 

    “We must ask that judges be elected by the people so that they are also accountable. Judges can wake up and make bad decisions,” Kinuthia ranted. 

    “Judges should learn the word ‘interdependence’ because as soon as they finish a ruling, they need policemen to escort them home as guards or drivers,” Tuju cautioned. 

    Uhuru gazetted Koome’s appointment as CJ a few hours after she was approved by Parliament. She is reported to be at a crossroads over how to navigate the Judiciary through a turbulent moment and also restore relationships with the Executive. 

    Her first task – after being sworn – in will be to appoint an Appellate bench that would listen to the appeals filed against the BBI High Court ruling. She is also expected to reshuffle judges and pressure Uhuru to appoint 41 more. 

    The President fell out with former CJ David Maraga after the emeritus nullified his 2017 Presidential election. The head of state vowed to revisit the situation and a few years later, he declined to appoint 41 judges recommended by Maraga. 

    Funds to the Judiciary were also cut down. Analysts and law experts stated that the Court of Appeal ruling on BBI will shape Koome’s first year in office and Uhuru’s last months at State House. 

    “I am retiring a happy man. But start praying for whoever will be appointed CJ after me, because this work is a difficult one. In fact, you should start praying for my successor even now.

    “I want to tell the government that the budget the judiciary was seeking was not Maraga’s money but for services for the people of Kenya,” Maraga stated while exiting office. 

    Former Chief Justice David Maraga (right) hands over documents to acting Chief Justice DCJ Philomena Mwilu (left) at a ceremony held at the Supreme Court on Monday, January 11, 2021

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