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Chebukati has a right to become Chief Justice – Mudavadi answers Raila

Raila alleged a deal between President William Ruto and Chief Justice Martha Koome in which Chebukati is to be appointed as Court of Appeal judge before elevating him to Chief Justice before 2027 elections.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi  addressing congregants at an Interdenominational Prayer Service that was also attended by President William Ruto at the Approved School Grounds, Kakamega County on Sunday, February 4, 2024

Days after Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga alleged a plot by President William Ruto to capture the Judiciary and make former Independent Electoral and Boundaries chairman Waful Chebukati the Chief Justice of Kenya, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has responded asserting that Chebukati has a right to become the Chief Justice.

Addressing the press on Friday shortly after the President met Chief Justice Martha Koome, Odinga alleged that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) offered Ruto slots in the gazetted Court of Appeal vacancies.

Odinga explains alleged plot to make Chebukati the Chief Justice of Kenya

The opposition chief claimed that two of the slots will be used by President Ruto to appoint Chebukati and his predecessor at IEBC, Issack Hassan to serve as Court of Appeal judges before elevating Chebukati to Chief Justice before the next general election in 2027.

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"At the meeting, the Chief Justice and Mr Ruto reached an agreement that will allow Mr Ruto to make additional funding to the Judiciary, in return, Justice Koome was to advertise vacancies for five additional judges and 11 Court of Appeal judges.

"This is in addition to the 20 high court judges advertised last year. As a matter of fact, the advertisement of the 11 judges has been gazetted today. In that agreement, the five high court judges and two Court of Appeal judges will be for Mr Ruto to forward to the JSC, and he floated the names, of immediate former IEBC chairpersons Mr Wafula Chebukati and Ahmed Issack Hassan to be appointed Court of Appeal judges with Chebukati later being elevated as the Chief Justice before the 2027 general elections," Raila stated.

According to Odinga, Ruto has an elaborate plan to have friendly judges dominate the judiciary in what will severely weaken the arm of government that he has attacked on numerous occasions after blocking some of his controversial policies.

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Mudavadi's response

Responding to Odinga’s claims, Mudavadi who was speaking during a church service in Kakamega that was also attended by Ruto castigated the former Prime Minister, noting that like anyone else, Chebukati has the right to become the Chief Justice of Kenya as long as he is qualified and due process is followed.

"The Judicial Service Commission is independent, and it has the right to recruit anybody who qualifies to be a judge of this republic. So it's wrong for the Azimio leadership to start determining who should the JSC recruit," Mudavadi said.

"Kama ni Chebukati ama nani, if he puts his bid for the position of a judge, that is the responsibility of the JSC, not the responsibility of politicians to try and direct JSC," the Prime Cabinet Secretary added.

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Ruto has been on the offensive, vowing to push on with some of his policies such as the Affordable Housing Program despite court ruling against the collection of Housing Levy.

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