Martha Koome Sworn In As Kenya's 15th Chief Justice

Koome took her oath of office at State House in Nairobi in a swearing-in ceremony presided by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Martha Koome Sworn In As Kenya's 15th Chief Justice

Lady Justice Martha Koome took her oath of office as the 15th Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya on Friday, May 21.

Making history as the first woman to be appointed Chief Justice in the nation, Koome took her oath of office at State House in Nairobi in a swearing-in ceremony presided by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The oath was administered by Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi.

"It's a singular honour to be the first president to swear in the first female Chief Justice of Kenya," Uhuru said after the oath.

Newly-sworn in Chief Justice Martha Koome. /TWITTER

Uhuru urged Koomed to promote fairness, independence and integrity.

"Mine is to wish you God's blessings as you embark on your duties. We will pray for you. We are here to partner with you and work together with you.

"Fanya haki tu, na hatutakua na shida (Just be fair and there will be no problem)," he added.

Court of Appeal president William Ouko also took his oath to serve as judge of the Supreme Court in a ceremony that took under 10 minutes.

President Uhuru had gazetted Koome's appointment on Wednesday, May 19, making her the first woman to head an arm of government. The three arms, the Executive, Legislative (Parliament) and Judiciary have been dominated by men over the years and Koome's appointment brought that trend to a halt.

What is more intriguing to Koome's appointment is that she will spearhead a team of women who will pitch camp in 36 positions in the leadership of the Judiciary.

That team comprises of Philomena Mwilu (Deputy Chief Justice); Prof. Olive Mugenda (Vice Chair, Judicial Service Commission); Wanjiru Karanja (Acting President, Court of Appeal); and Lydia Achode (Principal Judge, High Court).

The other women at the top of the Judiciary are: Maureen Onyango (Principal Judge, Employment and Labour Relations Court); Anne Amadi (Judiciary Chief Registrar); Judy Omange (Registrar, High Court); Esther Nyaiyaki (Registrar Supreme Court); Frida Mokaya (Registrar JSC).

Koome replaces retired Chief Justice David Maraga, who made history by leading the Supreme Court to declare  Uhuru's 2017 reelection victory null and void, citing ‘illegalities and irregularities’ and ordering a fresh election. Before that historic decision, it was unheard of in Africa for an opposition party to succeed in obtaining a court decision to overturn a president’s election.

Uhuru nonetheless won the second election after the opposition boycotted participation, stating that the electoral authority had not implemented adequate reforms to ensure free and fair polls.

Koome was nominated as Chief Justice by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over nine other candidates, including some of the country’s most prominent lawyers and academics. The candidates were interviewed live on TV by the Judicial Service Commission in April 2021.

She has 33 years of experience in legal practice and landed among 10 shortlisted candidates for the extensive two-week interview for the position of Kenya's Chief Justice. 

During her interview, Koome vowed that she would do the job diligently if she was accorded the opportunity to be Kenya's next Chief Justice.

Acting CJ Philomena Mwilu will formally hand over instruments of power on Monday, May 24. Koome's first task will be to listen to the BBI case at the Supreme Court or appoint a team to listen to it at the Court of Appeal.

Chief Justice-Elect Martha Koome. /FILE