All eyes now on Maraga’s antigraft strategy

All eyes will be on the new Chief Justice David Maraga as he settles down in office next week to effectively deal with corruption that has almost brought the country to its  knees.
 
Maraga who was sworn in on Wednesday becomes the second the second Chief Justice after the new constitution taking over from Willy Mutunga takes over office at the time the Judiciary has come under heavy criticism from all quarters as the main bottleneck in fighting graft in the country.
 
In the last few days President Uhuru Kenyatta has repeatedly berated the judiciary for delaying judgments by granting numerous injunctions, soft bonds and accumulating backlog of cases which he alleges has frustrated the war on graft.
 
While marking the Mashujaa Celebrations yesterday, the president challenged Justice Maraga to fast-track corruption cases that have been delayed for long in the judiciary saying that he had created room for the big fish after releasing close to 7, 000 petty offenders from the cells.
 
During the State House Summit on governance and accountability, the judiciary was blamed for frustrating the corruption battle, with different agencies pointing an accusing finger to the slow delivery of judgements that has created a huge backlog and release of corrupt culprits on court bonds.
President Kenyatta said he had provided all resources that institutions had asked for to be able to deal with corruption but no fruits were forthcoming.
“If there is one issue that has frustrated me is corruption because the pressure is on me to do something about it,” he lamented.
The opposition has castigated the Jubilee administration for courting mega corruption scandals including the Eurobond and National Youth Service saga.
But even as pressure piles on Maraga and the Judiciary to expedite the war against graft, lawyers and analysts have remained skeptical that the newly sworn in Chief Justice will help slay the dragon.
Political analyst Barack Muluka argues that Maraga’s efforts will be dealt a blow by the investigative and prosecuting agencies as they are dysfunctional and in a limping mode.
Muluka observes that as long as the other institutions continues to portray their shortcomings, corruption will remain a thorn in the flesh of the country
“It’s not about the Chief Justice but an array of all other institutions and those who run them. What can Justice Maraga do about a flawed police service, a dysfunctional anti-corruption agency or a poorly prosecuted case? He is on the finishing line and if sabotaged will give sabotaged results,” Mr Muluka said.
Lawyer Charles Kanjama insists that the chief justice can only slay the corruption menace by placing judges under performance targets to ensure they hasten cases before them.
However, Kanjama notes that without the necessary support from other independent institutions and other arms of government Justice Maraga is bound to frustrate the process like his predecessors.
“The Chief Justice has his options limited to placing judges under performance targets most notably to those dealing with corruption cases. However he must be supported by all other independent agencies including the presidency and the National Assembly. Otherwise it will an exercise in futility,” Kanjama observed.
In the last few days President Uhuru Kenyatta has repeatedly berated the judiciary for delaying judgements by granting numerous injunctions, soft bonds and accumulating backlog of cases which he alleges has frustrated the war on graft.
The opposition has castigated the Jubilee administration for courting mega corruption scandals including the Eurobond and National Youth Service saga.
But the law Society of Kenya (LSK) have defended the judiciary against the claims that it has slowed the fight against corruption, saying that a continued admonishment of the courts would create a negative perception to the public at a time that they are rebuilding public trust.
“Justice Maraga takes the helm of a judiciary, which has in the last few days become the convenient whipping boy in the fight against corruption. This is unfair and will only undermine public trust and confidence,” LSK President Isaac Okero said in a statement on Thursday.
He said court cases tend to be marred by “shoddy investigations and poorly-conducted prosecutions” rather than the corruption of judicial officers.
He also asked Maraga to use his experience in private practice and as a judge of the superior court, since he has the benefit of both perspectives.Eyes
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