First, it was Nancy Makokha Barasa, a strong champion of women and children”s right through FIDA (Federation of Women Lawyers) Kenya.
After the promulgation of the new constitution in 2010 that created the position of a Deputy Chief Justice, Nancy Barasa became the first female Deputy chief justice. Together with her senior Willy Munyoki Mutunga, they underwent a rigorous vetting process by the judicial service commission against many other candidates that enabled them get nominated, their names forwarded to the president and finally approved by parliament.
Daring and a go-getter in a field dominated by men, only the sky was the limit for Nancy. In the Western part of the country where she hails from, all were proud to be associated with their daughter who now holds the second top position in the judiciary.
Whether it was fate, bad luck or witch-hunt, Nancy’s position at the helm of the judiciary did not last for a very long time since her appointment in June 2011. The euphoria that came with her successful climb up the judicial ladder soon faded into thin air and this saw her come tumbling down mercilessly as her fight turned out to be a duel between the mighty and the tiny.
Hers was a case of disrespect to a female guard at the village market on the 31st of December 2011. Ooh God, actually it was said to be an assault against a one Kerubo and as you all know the rest is history. A tribunal was formed by the JSC that saw her get suspended and the eventual recommendation to be removed from office. She, however, chose the less embarrassing way and chose to resign from office on the 18th of October 2012.
Next in line was Kalpana Rawal whose tenure was more of a still lake until when her idea of extending the retirement age from 70 to 74 was mooted on grounds that she was appointed under the old constitution. Unfortunately for her, she lost that battle after seven appellate judges ruled that the retirement age for judges remain at 70 years.
Philomena Mwilu was next in line after she got sworn in on the 28th of October 2016. In 2017, while sitting as one of the seven supreme court judges, she annulled IEBC’S declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of 2017 presidential elections. This came as a shocker too many Kenyans given that the opposition had lost a similar case earlier back in 2013 under the reign of Willy Munyoki Mutunga.
The president-elect went berserk, breathing fire and called the judiciary ‘liars” with the promise of fixing things at the judiciary.
Well, whether it is now a confirmation of the “fix” promise no one knows for sure but as matters appear to be, there seems to have been a lot that went on behind the curtains before her arrest. Mwilu was arrested on the 28th ofAugust at the supreme court on allegations of financial impropriety through abuse of office and failure to pay taxes.
It now remains to be seen on whether she will go down her predecessor’s way.