Being Uhuru’s lawyer should not dictate my final fate, SC Ngatia

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By James Macharia 

The search for the Country’s Chief Justice entered day seven Tuesday with Senior Counsel Ngatia

With his 41 years of experience in legal practice, Senior counsel Fred Ngatia had at a point represented Uhuru Kenyatta as the president-elect in 2013 and also he represented the President for the same in 2017.

During the interview on Tuesday, Ngatia confessed of having a close relationship with the President but however, called upon the panel not to gauge his fitness for the task based on his proximity to the head of state since immediately after the case in which he represented the President, he embarked on his private practice where he continued with his work.

“I was appointed in 2013 to lead a team for which I am forever grateful and in 2017 I was appointed to do the same. Despite acting for the President-elect, I went back to my private practice,” said Ngatia.

Ngatia affirmed that his way of making decision has never been influenced by the perception of having represented the President twice in a presidential election petition in the last two general elections arguing that the same should not be a determinant of his fate since it was a normal lawyer-client relationship.

“The president has at no time tried to interfere or influence me in any decision I had made,” he said.

He also told the panel that he had also worked for condemned prisoners and many other Kenyans and he should not be discriminated for the clients he had worked for.

Ngatia further said that if appointed as the next Chief Justice, he has a planned legacy he would like to be remembered with as he would like to be remembered for reducing the traffic caused by gradually piling up of cases in courts, which he said up to date have never been dealt with.

The Senior Counsel also offered to the panel that he would also like to enhance what he termed as ‘expeditious disposal of cases’.

With an example of Singapore, Ngatia alluded to their wonderful and timely attendance to backlog of cases which had accumulated to toxic levels for four years. He said that he’s craving for the system they put in place that saw the backlog cleared and since then, Singapore was never the same again.

“It’s one of the shining examples of what can be done in a short time. I will be the CJ that will end the backlog and have expeditious disposal of cases as the court,” Ngatia explained.

Ngatia who says that he was not interested with the seat before 2010 added that he will urge all stakeholders to play their respective roles in order to achieve his ambitious proposals to enhance judicial jurisprudence.

The stakeholders he cited include the National Council on Administration of Justice.

Ngatia also has an ambition of cultivating the culture of serving Kenyans and correct work ethics, the latter being one of his core attributes.

When asked whether an outsider or an insider should become the next 15th Chief Justice, he said that merits should take the first priority. By way of an example, he mentioned a US Chief Justice by name Warren who came from private practice and at a point managed to abolish racial segregation as a governor in the US and subsisted for more than 70 years

He said that former US CJs had never been able to deal with racial segregation issue but Chief Justice Warren maneuvered through, despite of not having held any judicial position before.

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