Ngatia shrugs off links to Uhuru, says he will be an independent CJ

Written By: Muraya Kamunde

Mr. Fred Ngatia, S.C. appearing before the JSC for his interview for the position of Chief Justice. Photo by JSC.

Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia has brushed aside claims to the effect that he enjoys good relations with President Uhuru Kenyatta and this might compromise his independence should be appointed the next Chief Justice.

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According to Ngatia, his links and association with the head of state will not affect his performance and service delivery.

The renowned lawyer said this when he appeared before the Judicial Service Commission as interviews for the next CJ entered day seven.
Ngatia insists that he shouldn’t be judged based on services he has offered in the past.

“Do not discriminate me because of any client I have acted for. I have acted for the high, for the poor and those in terminal condition, judge me across board. The President like any other Kenyan was in need of legal representation, I am not ashamed of working for him,” he said.

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Ngatia sought to clear the air in light of questions raised over his past engagements including representing President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2013 and 2017 Presidential Elections petitions.

He reiterates that as a leader and a lawyer of many years, he is qualified for judiciary’s top job.

The Lawyer told the JSC interviewing panel that after the elections petitions, he retreated to private practice and that his relationship with the President did not continue.

At the same time, Ngatia says President Kenyatta has not in any way intervened on his behalf in any work he has done.

“If honoured to serve I will be clear that the Judiciary will be independent to a point that we shall not be directed by anyone,” he added.

Seen as one the of top contenders for the CJ post, Mr Ngatia has an aggregate of 41 years’ experience in the legal profession.

On the issue of appointment of the 41 judges who await the nod of the President, Mr Ngatia promised to prioritize their swearing-in disclosing that he would make matter a subject of priority.

“It’s not possible to have a condition spelt out to the appointing authority, it would be disrespectful but I will make it as important as my swearing in,” said Ngatia.

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