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Election case haunts AG nominee in vetting

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Attorney General nominee Paul Kariuki yesterday defended himself over the constitution of a bench to hear an appeal by IEBC on last year’s repeat presidential election.

Kariuki who is the President of the Court of Appeal, constituted a three judge-bench to hear the appeal on a holiday while he was out of Nairobi.

MPs asked him to explain how Justices Erastus Githinji, Martha Koome and Fatuma Sichale were asked to hear the appeal while they are stationed in Kisumu, Malindi and Nyeri respectively.

The appeal was filed by IEBC after High Court Judge George Odunga declared the appointment of returning officer unconstitutional.

Majority Leader Aden Duale and Minority leader John Mbadi asked Kariuki to clear the air on the controversy.

“My role as the President of the Court of Appeal is to place cases before a bench. What the bench does with the case is not my business,” Kariuki told the vetting panel chaired by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Khelef Khalifa and Hassan Abdile had moved to court to halt the election, saying the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission did not follow the law in the appointment of the returning officers in the 290 constituencies. The appeal bench set aside the ruling.

Kariuki said he could not comment on the matter because it was a subject of an investigation by the Judicial Service Commission.

“I’m waiting to hear from JSC on my innocence or otherwise,” Kariuki said.

He promised to offer sound advice to all arms of government and counties, saying the government has lost several cases, resulting in huge damages.

Kariuki said he will revamp the State Law Office and build the capacity of the staff. He also promised to ensure easy access to justice and reduce case backlogs.

“I will reduce the number of cases and contracts which are badly handled,” Kariuki said.

Kihara said should Parliament approve him, he will create an enabling environment for the realization of the government’s four agendas of universal health, cheap housing, manufacturing and food security.

Kariuki said he will team up with other state agencies to tackle corruption.

He defended his record, saying he has not been accused of taking a bribe or delivering an incompetent ruling during his 16 years as a judge.

“My strength comes from experience and conviction that justice must be for all,” Kariuki said.