Kenya: We Must Restore Public Confidence in Judiciary, Says Justice William Ouko

Justice William Ouko says the Supreme Court should take the lead in cleaning up the judiciary and restore public confidence ahead of the 2022 General Election.

In an interview with the Nation, the judge admitted that much had been said about the apex court as regards corruption and incompetence.

“We should interrogate these allegations internally so that the truth is brought out in the open. I will be persuading my colleagues to have some self-introspection and ask why these things are being said about us, what has led them to make the claims and what can be done to restore confidence,” said Justice Ouko.

Currently, the court has Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Justice Mohamed Ibrahim, Justice Njoki Ndung’u and Justice Isaac Lenaola. Barring a calamity, they will be joined by Justice Ouko and Martha Koome as Chief Justice.

He also urged judges in lower courts to embrace technology to clear pending cases as fast as possible.

“We need to employ mechanisms to deal with the case backlog. It is because of the long time the cases take that the public continues to raise questions on the decisions we make as judges. ICT has come in handy and it will help,” said Justice Ouko, 60.

Expedite cases

He, however, said should the number of Court of Appeal judges remain few, it won’t be easy to expedite cases and render judgment in good time. There are just 15 judges at the appellate court and after the departure of the two, it will have 13.

In his career, Justice Ouko was inspired by family members, relatives, teachers and other prominent judges from Yimbo West Ward, where his rural village is.

The death of one of his brothers in 1974, Boaz Ogolla, pushed his quest for justice for the vulnerable in society. Mr Ogolla was the deputy registrar at the University of Nairobi when he died in an inferno. His wife was charged for murder but was acquitted for lack of evidence.

“When my brother died, my father was really affected and told me to join the police reserve to investigate the matter and ensure I will always fight for justice. That is the way I found myself in the service,” said Justice Ouko, who used to lecture officers on law and administration of justice.

Read: My vast experience will save Judiciary, Justice Ouko tells JSC

He developed his reading habits from his father, Mzee Habil Okello, who was a clerk in the office of ex-chief Okello Anam.