By Mourice Seretta
Chief Justice Martha Koome was on Friday officially sworn in at State House, Nairobi, as the country’s Chief Justice, in a ceremony graced and presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
After taking her oath of office at State House, the CJ was driven to the Supreme Court, the Apex Court in the country, where she was received by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi, Supreme Court Judges and the Judiciary Leaders Advisory Council (JLAC) Attorney General Kihara Kariuki amongst other senior court officials.
Her immediate family, husband and children, also graced the event.
The new CJ vowed to protect the independence of the Judiciary during her maiden speech at the Supreme Court.
“I have no difficulties to state that the independence of the Judiciary cannot be interfered with. Our decision making, hiring of staff is protected in the Constitution. Any party trying to direct how the Judiciary should decide a matter would be interfering with the Constitution. We cannot work when the chain is broken.The Executive has a responsibility to ensure budgetary allocations that supports the functions of the Judiciary.” CJ Koome said.
The CJ also called for proper use of resources in the Judiciary.
“My clarion call today is for everyone to bear their own weight and take agency for ensuring that we all become champions for justice,” Koome said.
She also congratulated newly appointed Supreme Court Judge William Ouko. She narrated how the two schooled together in the early eighties and was happy that they will be working together at the Supreme Court bench.
Ouko said they will be team players together with those that they will be working with at the top court.
They both took the oath of office to serve at the Supreme Court at State House and were both eyeing the CJ post.
‘We have both worked together at the the Court of the Appeal and he (Ouko) was my boss. During the CJ interviews, we were encouraging each other. This is something I would like our politicians to learn from,’ Koome said amid applause.
Koome also lauded Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu for holding fort as the acting CJ for the four months since David Maraga retired.
“She ensured there were no gaps,” Koome said.
President Kenyatta congratulated Chief Justice Koome and Supreme Court Judge Justice Ouko on their appointment and urged them to ensure justice is served at all times in accordance with the Constitution and the established rule of law.
Koome will be the first female Chief Justice of independent Kenya. She takes over from Maraga who retired early this year.