Search for Chief Justice: Prof. Patricia Mbote put on the spot over her integrity

Search for Chief Justice: Prof. Patricia Mbote put on the spot over her integrity
Prof. Patricia Mbote gets interviewed for the Chief Justice position on April 13, 2021. PHOTO| COURTESY

As the search for the next Chief Justice entered its second day on Tuesday, academician Prof. Patricia Kameri-Mbote found herself in unfamiliar territory as  she was confronted with questions over her integrity.

Mbote, the first female professor in law, denied some of the allegations while defending herself against an accusation by Professor Migai Aketch that she took ownership of a concept paper they wrote together when she was serving as a dean at the University of Nairobi.

In response, Prof. Mbote told the Judicial Service Commission: “I did involve Prof. Migai and there was going to be an output to that work which was going to be a book co-edited by myself and him but since his name didn’t appear on the concept, he didn’t want to work on it, so we refunded the money for the book.”

The commission also sought a response on allegations that despite failing to attend the senior counsels committee meetings, she colluded with others to frustrate a candidate contesting for the Law Society of Kenya. This too she denied.

“It has surprised me to hear that I concluded because I had no interest in any candidate. My work was to actually to help the society,” she said.

Mbote, who boasts of a distinguished career in the academic world, also came under fire for failing to submit her spouse’s wealth declaration form, in her defense she insisted she did not have clear instructions on how to go about it.

The commission which is keen on settling on a nominee that has vast jurisprudential experience, aggressive and one who will be able to steer the judiciary further sought to know what Mbote would do to transform the third arm of government.

“I would be open to negotiating that can we have something in the Judicary Fund so that the Judiciary is able to execute its function,” said Prof. Mbote onfor instance the

Once a facilitator of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process as part of the team that was sensitizing the public on its contents, Mbote was cornered over the controversial matter of the establishment of the office of the Ombudsman which many judicial officers have claimed was a ploy to interfere with its independence.

“I don’t think it has been elaborated but I would stand guided. So I will think more about it,” she said.

If she is successful, Mbote, who will be Kenya’s first female Chief Justice, told the commission: “I think leadership is not gendered but I also think men and women bring different values to leadership.”

On the strained relations between the Judiciary and the Executive that have been worsened by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s defiance to swear in 41 judges, Mbote said her negotiation skills will come in handy in resolving the matter.

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