On August 8th 2017, Kenya conducted its 4th general elections since the inception of multiparty democracy in the country. Regular elections in Kenya is laudable considering that it signifies the entrenchment of electoral democracy in any society that practices it. Other tenets of democracy include Inter alia the rule of law and the respect for human rights. To safe guard democratic gains particularly from an electoral perspective, the judiciary has a paramount role of ensuring that laws of the land are interpreted properly and that the correct electoral jurisprudence is set.
The Supreme Court played unprecedented role in the manner in which it handled the 2017 presidential petition filed by the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The court whose president and also the chief justice of Kenya is Justice David Maraga, astounded many by delivering a historic ruling never witnessed before on the African continent and only fourth across the globe. In his ruling Justice Maraga declared the August 8th presidential election results, in which the incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta had been declared the winner by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as invalid, null and void. He went further to direct the IEBC to conduct fresh presidential elections within 60 days as stipulated in the law, under Articles 140 (3) of the constitution of Kenya.
Justice Maraga opined that the IEBC failed to conduct the elections in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution and that it committed irregularities and illegalities which affected the integrity of the presidential elections. It’s on these grounds that the presidential elections results were nullified.
In delivering such earth-shattering ruling, justice Maraga cemented his position in history books as courageous, firm and truthful. By unearthing irregularities and illegalities in the manner in which the electoral process was conducted, he chose to stand for justice. Despite high politics at play as expected in any presidential race with an incumbent candidate, he chose to defend the popular will. By this action, he has demonstrated that he is a man of integrity and uncompromisable.
The problem that has bedeviled Kenyan judiciary has always revolved around state capture of the judicial system. Justice Maraga’s comportment confirms that he is what Kenya requires at the helm of judiciary in order to secure the justice system by combating rampant corruption and restoring confidence in the judiciary.