Wednesday, January 11, 2012



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
January 9, 2012

December 31 2011 was indeed a sad day for Nancy Baraza, Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice. A stop over at her local pharmacy in the Village Market turned ugly after what initially looked like a small misunderstanding between her and Rebecca Kerubo, one of the guards manning a security checkpoint at that market.

Scanning media details of the confrontation between Rebecca Kerubo and Justice Baraza, one gets the impression that there has been more to the spin in the local press than merely reporting the story.

The rush with which the media covered the story with a slant in favour of the security guard has definitely been cause for concern. And as usual, gullible Kenyans on social media took the cue and started baying Justice Baraza’s blood left and right.

To Kenyans who blogged this story or contributed  online, Baraza was already as guilty as sin; never mind that the police were still investigating the allegations against her.
Matters were not made any better by none other than Chief Justice Willy Mutunga her immediate boss. A press statement released by Mutunga towards the end of the week was loaded with meaning for those who cared to analyze his alluding to the fact that “nobody was above the law”. That “nobody” could definitely have not been Rebecca Kerubo the underdog in the gun saga.

While the police had taken over the investigations into the allegations, was it necessary for the CJ to hurriedly convene the JSC to investigate the same unless he had some unusual interest in the case? Is it the job of the judiciary to investigate a criminal case in which one of its senior staff members is involved?

Justice Baraza is accused of failing to stop at the checkpoint, pinching Rebecca Kerubo’s nose and finally drawing a gun from her car threatening to shoot her.  These are serious allegations by any standard. The only problem is, we have failed to get any other voice corroborating   this story except Kerubo’s allegations. Surely, the checkpoint at the Village Market is a pretty busy place. Didn’t anybody see Nancy pinch this poor girl’s nose? Didn’t anybody see Justice Baraza rush to her car, pull a gun and attempt to shoot the guard? Or am I the only one missing something here?

Justice Baraza on that fateful evening had two armed body guards. What did they do all this time when the judge was pinching the guard’s nose and trying to shoot her? Has any media house sought statements from these two body guards and Kerubo’s colleague on duty at that check point? If they did, I must have missed the story.

It may be true that Justice Baraza did all that to a poor helpless victim of the Kenyan society. It may be true the judge became drunk with power of her high office and hence went overboard to trample upon the wretched of the earth. I have no quarrel with that. My worry is the rush with which we believed a security guard’s story as we discarded whatever little we heard from Justice Baraza!

 Are our guards generally more believable and trustworthy than a judge of the Supreme Court in this country? Do they always tell the truth especially when they may have been involved in outright rudeness to a member of the public? How many of us baying for the blood of Baraza have never had bitter exchanges with guards at our homes , our work places or even at other malls?

Have we ever come across rude and unreasonable guards in our lives? Why is this incident making us believe that security guards are saints whose word is the truth and nothing but the truth? Are we sincere in condemning a Supreme Court judge on the word of a security guard without giving her a chance to tell us candidly her side of the story or even looking for other independent sources?

I am fairly informed that when this story broke out, a section of the judiciary was in celebration. This group comprised of the old guard that did not get the CJ and DCJ jobs they had been interviewed for.

They have since been unhappy that the civil society lawyers hogged all the plum positions at the judiciary. Now with Baraza in trouble, they hope to have the last laugh.
If indeed this is what transpired at the judiciary then Kenyans are in for a long haul in realizing reforms. No wonder even before the police concluded their investigations, before the JSC sat to deliberate on the matter, two idle Kenyans had rushed to court seeking for Justice Baraza’s removal from office citing Chapter Six of Kenya’s constitution.

Were these eager and enthusiastic Kenyans acting in good faith and on their own or was there an invisible hand behind their moves? Why is this country full of vindictive individuals ready to drug public servants into the mud at the slightest excuse? The other day it was Bethuel Kiplagat and Kiraiko Tobiko in quick succession. Today it is Justice Baraza. When will this vindictiveness end? Where will we find angels to work in this country? 

After we are through with Nancy Baraza, who will it be next? The Chief Justice or the Attorney General?

Let us exercise our new found freedom and democracy with some semblance of dignity and decorum lest we fall into the trap of mob dictatorship.