Lawyer Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia has explained the state of his relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Appearing before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) panel for an interview to fill the role of Kenya’s next Chief Justice, Ngatia revealed that his relationship the Head of State ended after he finished representing him.
Ngatia represented President Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017 both after ODM leader Raila Odinga challenged his win in both elections at the Supreme Court.
The JSC panel told Ngatia that Kenyans had raised concerns over his relationship with the president, arguing that it would interfere with the dispensation of his duties as CJ.
Ngatia defended himself, stating that he only worked with Uhuru when he was in charge of his defence team in 2013 and 2017. He added that immediately the legal matters were concluded, his relationship with Uhuru ended.
“Despite acting for the president elect, as soon as the brief was over, I went to private practice and the relationship ended,” Ngatia stated.
“That is why you have not seen me in any lineup for conferment, chairmanship, or directorship of State corporations.
“The President has never in any way tried to influence me in any work that I have done,” he added.
Ngatia, in his defence before the panel, referenced a time in 2020 when he took on a Cabinet Secretary in the Uhuru government who wanted to interfere with the appointment of the University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor and got him to back down.
He, however, expressed eternal gratitude for having represented and worked with the Head of State.
“…2013, a great mark of honour, a great mark of trust to be entrusted with the petition. It was a one off. After we finalised our work I never worked for the president in any other activity, personal or official. I was never a member of Jubilee party.
“2017 the same thing, it was a one off, as fate will have it…it was nullified…. I would wish to emphasise that I’m here as a candidate for the people of Kenya… If given the honour to serve them I’ll be appearing for the people of Kenya,” Ngati stated.
The Senior Counsel noted that on the contrary, his experience working with President Kenyatta and other state organs such as the National Assembly would benefit the judiciary if he is appointed CJ.
The lawyer stated that having worked with such clients, he has built a rapport and created “warmth” that may help end stalemates between the judiciary and such agencies.
“Because of having acted for the National Assembly or having acted for the president, that warmth or that relationship is to bring a speedy resolution and that will be an advantage to the Judiciary in the sense that I will be unlocking that which hasn’t be done particularly say for example, in our budget process,” Ngatia said.