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Trials and triumphs of Nancy Baraza

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Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza has apologised for the "unfortunate" incident at Village Market on Saturday saying she had no intention of "arrogance or ill will" January 4, 2012. FILE

Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza has apologised for the "unfortunate" incident at Village Market on Saturday saying she had no intention of "arrogance or ill will" January 4, 2012. FILE 

By CHRISTINE MUNGAI

posted  Sunday, January 8  2012 at  11:15

Near fallout with LSK

The current CJ was then the LSK’s vice-chairman, and he was on the receiving end of Ms Baraza’s gag order, along with Muite, Charles Nyachae — now the chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution — Martha Njoka, whom Kenyans now know as Martha Karua, Japheth Shamalla, F. Kagwe and G. B. M. Kariuki.

As LSK chairman, Muite told the court that it was the business of LSK to speak out on human-rights violations, over-concentration of powers in the presidency, subordination of other institutions and emasculation of parliament. These were the issues that would later inform the struggle for multiparty politics and the Constitution that we have today.

The Nancy Baraza group felt that LSK should restrict itself to the narrow objective of disciplining and licensing lawyers and that the Muite group was out of line.

It wanted the Muite group sent to jail for contempt of court after they defied orders issued by Justice Norbury Dugdale and Justice Joseph Amonde Mango barring them from making political statements. Muite completed his tenure without doing too much as the Baraza faction managed to scuttle his efforts to use the LSK to raise serious issues of political leadership in this country.

At the vetting exercise for the top judicial jobs, the 1990 incident was revisited when parliamentarian Millie Odhiambo asked Ms Baraza how, as a self-confessed reformist, she justified her move to have Muite and company gagged. Ms Baraza said that she was then naive and wanted to save the law body from being proscribed by Moi. In the ensuing years, Ms Baraza managed to erase this blot on her career by becoming a democracy activist — it seems that all was forgiven by Muite and civil society.

Nancy Makokha Baraza was born in Bungoma County in the 1950s and attended Lugulu Girls High School for her O-levels.

She is a former chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers of Kenya (Fida), a group known for its strong advocacy of democracy, women’s and children’s rights.

She served in Yash Pal Ghai’s original Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, which produced the Bomas draft constitution, a document that served as one of the reference drafts for the constitution passed in 2010.

She was appointed to the Kenya Law Reform Commission in 2008 for a term of three years, serving as a vice chairperson until her appointment as deputy CJ. In early 2010, she was elected chairperson of the Media Council of Kenya’s Ethics and Complaints Commission.

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