By Faith Nyarangi
He made headlines around the world when he-together with three of his colleagues-annulled the 2017 presidential election. Ex-Chief Justice David Maraga proved the independence of the Judiciary by nullifying the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta who had appointed him. Although Uhuru went on to win in the re-election that was boycotted by ODM candidate Raila Odinga-he vowed to fix the Judiciary. And the former CJ has been felt the heat with all kinds of accusations flying around and the President refusing to meet him to discuss the appointment of Judges. So who is David Maraga?
Here is his story as told by WoK.
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David Maraga was born on January 12, 1951. He is 71 years by the time of publishing this article.
His 14 page resume attest to a man who took his education seriously. He sat for his Certificate of primary Education (CPE) at Sironga DEB Primary School in Kisii. He went on to join Maranda High School for his O-levels and later Kisii High School for his A-levels. Maraga joined University of Nairobi to pursue Bachelor of Laws Degree and a Master of Law Degree in the same institution.
- 2010 to 2012—Master of Laws Degree (LLM), Law, Governance and Democracy, University of Nairobi. Thesis: “The Implications of Article 2(6) of the Constitution in the Domestication of International Treaties”;
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- 1974 to 1977—Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB Hons.), University of Nairobi, Kenya;
- 1977 to 1978—Diploma in Legal Practice, Kenya School of Law, Nairobi Kenya;
- 1972 to 1973—Kisii High School—East African Advanced Certificate of Education (A Level);
- 1968 to 1971—Maranda High School—East African School Certificate (O Level);
- 1961 to 1967—Sironga DEB Primary School—Certificate of Primary Education (CPE)
The ex-president of the Supreme Court of Kenya is married to Yucabeth Nyaboke. Maraga is proud of his wife and they can be spotted in public events holding hands, a rare spectacle among the old generation. The couple is blessed with three children, two girls and one boy.
The ex-CJ never wavers when it comes to his religion and he has made that clear on numerous occasions. During questioning by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)- prior to his appointment as CJ-if he would hear a presidential election dispute on the sabbath day, Maraga categorically stated that “It would be very difficult for me to sit on a Saturday to hear a case” and would instead talk to his colleagues to accommodate him and “exempt me from sitting if the hearing extends to a Saturday.”
Maraga is a church Elder and-according to his CV- “one of the Bible-Study leaders of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church.”
Life Of Partying
Before he gave his life to Christ, Maraga was a party animal whose life revolved around drinking. Maraga said he was baptized and joined the SDA church in 1965 while he was in primary school. But when he joined Kisii School for his A-levels from Maranda High his life took a wrong turn. For the next 20 plus years, the CJ wasted his life on the fast line. He said of his past:
“There was a hill near Kisii School where we would go to drink. I continued with this habit all through to the time I worked as an advocate. From 1963 to 1991, I was a different person,” he shared his past at Nyambaria Boys High School during the institution’s alumni service.
He would go with his friends to binge drinking escapades “in Nakuru, Nairobi or Kisii and spend the entire weekend enjoying.” Maraga only provided the bare minimum for his family but largely ignored them and in his own words, “literally mark timed for about 20 years and I did not bother to further my professional career.”
At the time he thought he was enjoying life but he had an emptiness that drinking could not fill. His inner self kept telling him he was not doing the right thing. It was not until the end of 1991 that he “developed a strong urge encouraging me to go to church where my wife and our daughter, who was the only child then, were attending.”
Maraga had had enough and on the first day of 1992 he decided to kick his old habit of drinking and committed his life to the Christian faith.
David Maraga worked as an advocate in his own private practice from 1978-2003. From 2003 – 2007 he worked in the High Court of Mombasa. Retired President Mwai Kibaki appointed the no-nonsense Maraga as High Court Judge in October 2003. In 2013, he climbed the career ladder after being elevated to the Court of Appeal following a rigorous interview by the JSC. During the mandatory vetting by Judges & Magistrates Vetting Board in 2012 of all judicial officials appointed before the 2010 Constitution of Kenya came into effect, Justice Maraga took a bible and swore that he had never taken a bribe in his career.
Here is his career path as extracted from his CV:
September 2014 to 2016—Presiding Judge, Court of Appeal, Kisumu;
January 2013 to August 2014—Judge, Court of Appeal, Nairobi;
April 2011 to December 2012—Presiding Judge, The Family Division of the High Court;
September 2010 to March 2011—Judge, Civil Division High Court, Nairobi;
May 2008 to August 2010—Resident Judge, High Court of Kenya, Nakuru;
January 2008 to April 2008—Judge, High Court of Kenya, Nakuru;
and 2003 – 2007—High Court of Mombasa.
1978 – 2003 – Private Legal Practice
Appointment of CJ
Justice Maraga was among ten candidates who applied for the position of Chief Justice following the voluntary early retirement of Dr Willy Mutunga in June 2016. His name was forwarded to the President for appointment after being nominated by JSC. On 18 October 2016, the National Assembly voted unanimously to approve his appointment as CJ. A day later he was officially appointed by the Head of State and took the oath of office as the second Chief Justice in Kenya’s new constitutional dispensation.
The then Chief Justice, and three of his colleagues, made history after they nullified the 2017 presidential election citing irregularities in the whole process and called for another round of presidential election. Maraga was hailed as a hero for his bravery and sticking to the law while some castigated him. President Uhuru Kenyatta was miffed by the decision of the four Judges and stated: “We shall revisit this thing. We clearly have a problem…..” he went ahead to question who had elected the CJ saying “We have a problem and we must fix it.” Justice Maraga woes were seen as payback time by the presidency.
Maraga accused Uhuru of defying court orders and failing to appoint 41 judges. The President has yet to appoint the judges who had been recommended by JSC in 2019 saying that some had integrity issues. The ex-CJ accused the executive of disregarding court orders thus denying Kenyans justice.
“This disregard of court orders by the president is part of the pattern by the Executive. I must remind the president that he swore to defend the Constitution and the laws of Kenya, he must demonstrate his respect for the law by complying with court orders,” Maraga shared his frustration to the media.
A woman claiming to have sired a child with Maraga went to the Milimani Law courts and caused a scene. The woman, Mary Kwamboka, said that Maraga had denied the child who is now six years. She alleged that they met in 2013 and had a steamy affair with him.
“I now have a six-year-old daughter. I have the documents and have been filing cases here. He was summoned by the Children’s Department but he refused to come,” she was quoted by The Star.
The lawyer Danstan Omari denied the claims saying they had perused the document presented to show Maraga is the father and found it to be a fake.
“We have had a perusal and due diligence of the annexures that have been filed to accompany this. For those who have access to the birth certificate… there is no registrar known as Shamwata in the whole country nor has there been an officer with the name N.P Otieno,” Omari said.