Fireworks are expected today (Friday, April 16) as Senior Counsel Philip Murgor takes the hot seat at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews for the next Chief Justice.
Already, Kenyans have been treated to high octane drama if not humour. From Justice Said Chitembwe weeping, and jaw-dropping moments on his convictions regarding underage sexual relationships, to Justice Njagi Marete having to defend his sanity to the panel.
Only that for Murgor, he will be facing a panel that he has already concluded that might be biased towards a particular candidate.
Pause on CJ Mwilu
The former Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) unsuccessfully tried to stop Acting CJ Philomena Mwilu from sitting in the interviewing panel.
In a letter to JSC early April, Murgor, 59, argued that another Senior Counsel hunting the CJ job- Fred Ngatia represented Mwilu when she was vetted on her suitabilty to be a judge in 2012.
This, Murgor says, represents a serious conflict of interest. That is now water under the bridge, albeit on Mwilu’s side because she is on the panel.
Murgor on retired CJ Maraga
To a man who is “very pleased” with his ‘steadily’ rising career and social life, retired CJ David Maraga was sincere and did his best. But as the next CJ (because he is very sure of his chances), “It’s important to avoid disputes that lead to institutional deadlocks.”
Murgor has on many occasions faulted Maraga for mishandling the budgetary dispute between the Judiciary and the Executive, and for that, he gave him a 65 out of 100.
“I’d have handled the budgetary issue differently, by being more diplomatic but also firm.”
But is the Iten-born lawyer diplomatic himself? Murgor says that there is a time to shout from the rooftops, and a time to be diplomatic but firm.
Like in 2020 Murgor, who was admitted to the bar in 1986, settled on the former. He shocked the Eldoret court after he accused his step-mother and step-sister, Selina Murgor and Elizabeth Komen respectively, of practising witchcraft.
In 1965, Murgor was appointed by Central Bank of Kenya to unravel the Goldenberg scandal, helping the government recover billions of shillings.
There are 10 candidates who are seeking to replace retired CJ David Maraga. So far, Justices Said Juma Chitembwe, Prof Kameri Mbote, Justice Martha Koome, and Justice David Marete have been interviewed. Other CJ hopefuls are Fred Ngatia, Justice Juma Nderi, Justice William Ouko, Prof. Moni Wekesa, and Alice Jepkoeach Yano.