The besieged LSK Council has been left with copious egg on its face after its attempts to buy influential members’ silence and cooperation ended in spectacularly embarrassing failure. This began with recent announcement of the formation of a committee of lawyers ‘to protect the Constitution from Executive interference’. The chairman of LSK, Eric Mutua, did not specify what particular Executive actions threaten the constitution, nor did he bother to elaborate on the specific terms of reference of the committee. The committee was to be composed of 35 lawyers.
Over 23 lawyers who had been unilaterally nominated to serve on the committee rejected their appointments out of hand, exposing the Council as desperate to buy the support of membership using dubious appointments. One of them, Vincent Suyianka ole Lempaa wrote a scathing letter to the Secretary through his advocates, Murigi Kamande and Associates of Nairobi. In the letter, ole Lempaa protested the appointment, saying that he had neither expressed any interest in serving in the committee or any other, nor had he been consulted prior to the Chairman’s announcement.
“First, as a strong believer in the ideals of the rule of law and constitutionalism, the least our client expected was communication to the entire membership of the Council’s intention to establish such a committee and invite members to express interest , but not handpicking members without even consulting them”, read the letter in part.
ole Lempaa also stated that the new committee is not only superfluous, but also suspicious.
“Second, as you are well aware, the Law Society has numerous specialized committees tasked with fulfilling particular facets of the LSK’s objective of fostering the administration of law and justice in Kenya. One such committee is the Constitutional Implementation & Law Reform Committee, which, according to your database, is currently composed of 9 members….”
Raising questions on the integrity and transparency of the new move by Council, ole Lempaa added,
“Finally, the timing and composition of the committee raises eyebrows as to the real intention behind its formation bearing in mind that campaigns have started in earnest for the representation in the Council of the Law Society of Kenya, Judicial Service Commission and Judicial Service Commission. It is curious that some of the current Council members who have declared interest in defending their positions are members of the said committee.
The upshot of the foregoing is that our client has, with due respect, declined the appointment to the Committee on the Protection and Ideal Implementation of the Constitution.”
Lawyers have expressed bemusement at the beleaguered Council’s latest move. Some see the move as a hypocritical deflection strategy “Shouldn’t it have been prudent for that committee to be an in-house one so as to ensure that the LSK Council respects the law first before we venture into the national scene? The Council tramples on the rights of the members but wants to ensure that legal infractions at the national stage are attended to?” posed one advocate.
Another faulted the process of setting up the committee.