Raila secures a significant victory as the High Court suspends President Ruto’s decision to appoint a judicial inquiry committee to investigate the Shakahola massacre.
Justice Lawrence Mugambi, in response to a petition by the Azimio coalition, recognized the gravity of the raised concerns and deemed court intervention necessary. Furthermore, Justice Mugambi pointed out that multiple entities, such as the Police, Senate, and the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR), were already conducting investigations into the incident, utilizing public funds and resources.
Considering the additional financial burden the commission would impose on the public, the court deemed it unfavorable for the interests of Kenyans.
Justice Mugambi further expressed that allowing the Justice Lessit-led commission to proceed with its proceedings, utilizing public funds, would be wasteful if it was later determined that the appointment of the commission was unconstitutional.
The judge emphasized that prioritizing the public interest did not align with initiating the Commission of Inquiry before resolving the constitutional challenges presented.
On Monday, May 22, the High Court issued a halt on any further proceedings conducted by the commission, awaiting a final judgment. Paul Mwangi, the lawyer representing Azimio, sought the exclusion of Justice Jessie Lessit from the proceedings, arguing that her impartiality was compromised since she was chosen to lead the commission that Azimio had opposed in terms of its formation and composition.
Mwangi stated, “She cannot receive payment from the executive director while simultaneously serving in the Judiciary.”
Azimio’s petition contended that the formation of the Lessit-led commission was unconstitutional and that the president lacked the authority to command its establishment.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga asserted that only Parliament holds the power to establish an inquiry commission into the Shakahola massacre.
“The president does not possess the authority to determine the composition of a court or an independent tribunal, nor does he have the right to decide who presides over a court or an independent tribunal,” the petition stated, emphasizing that the constitution solely empowers the Judicial Service Commission to recruit qualified individuals for tribunal service.