Kenyan Pursues Ouster of Chief Justice Martha Koome from Office

February 2, 2024

Petitioner Michael Kojo Otieno, a private citizen, has filed a petition to remove Chief Justice Martha Koome from office, alleging that she did not adhere to the law in appointing members to the tax appeal tribunal.

Otieno claims in the petition that Koome lacked transparency and discriminated against applicants for board membership.

“While appointing persons to serve at the tax appeal tribunal, the judge failed to be honest in the execution of powers conferred to her by the Tax Appeal Tribunal Act based on powers conferred to the judge as a judicial officer…,” the petition reads in part.

“It should always be remembered that each judicial officer occupies a special and revered position which must be protected both in public and private life, so as not to bring the Judicial Service generally, into disrepute. It is imperative, therefore, that every judicial officer should adhere to this Code with scrupulous care,” Otieno adds.

Otieno based his petition on seven accounts:

Account 1 – He contended that the CJ violated the law by appointing more members than the number stipulated by the Act.

Account 2 – While appointing individuals to serve at the Tax Appeals Tribunal, the petitioner asserted that CJ Koome failed to conduct herself in a manner that promotes transparency.

Account 3 – The Chief Justice allegedly fell short of the test of selflessness based on the public interest in executing her duties during the appointment of members.

Account 4 – He argued that Koome failed to instill public trust in the appointment of Tax Appeals Tribunal members.

Account 5 – Otieno claims that CJ Koome’s actions in appointing Tax Appeals Tribunal members violated Article 166 (2) of the Constitution, which outlines the leadership conduct expected of a judge, judicial officer, and judicial staff.

Account 6 – The petitioner alleges that CJ Koome discriminated against individuals who applied to the tribunal as members.

Account 7 – He asserts that the Chief Justice abused her office, subsequently burdening Kenyan taxpayers with two members who were not budgeted for.

The petitioner argues that due to the aforementioned reasons and arguments, the Chief Justice is unfit to hold office and should be removed from her position.

“That the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya is unfit to hold the office of chief justice for failing to execute the duties of the office of the chief justice with powers conferred upon her by an act of parliament in the appointment of members of the Tax Appeal Tribunal,” the petition declares.

Furthermore, Kojo Otieno seeks the declaration of Koome’s actions in appointing members to the tax appeal tribunal as illegal, null, and void.

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