Chief Justice David Maraga has moved High Court Justice Odunga in a major judicial reshuffle that affected 128 judges across the country.
Justice George Odunga will now head the Judicial Review Division where he will be assisted by Justice Roselyn Aburili, in a promotion that signifies Chief Justice Maraga’s defiance of external pressure.
Justice Odunga had often been criticised by Jubilee government over his rulings that seem to conflict with the government’s stand on major issues.
The most recent attack came in December last year when National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale threatened to table a motion in Parliament to remove Justice Odunga over alleged biased rulings.
“We will expose you for who you are. You cannot be a member of the bench and still play tribal politics.
“When the House reconvenes on January 24th we will table a motion to remove Justice Odunga,” said the Garissa Township MP.
Aden Duale’s remarks elicited sharp condemnation from the judicial body with Chief Justice Maraga and several lawyers including Ahmednasir Abdullahi terming his statement as malicious and an attempt to infringe on the independence of the judiciary.
Justice Odunga is not the most celebrated judge in government circles having made several rulings that did not augur well with the ‘House on the Hill’.
Among the perceived controversial rulings include dismissal of eight clauses of the Security Law Amendments and legalisation of CORD’s parallel Madaraka Day celebrations at Uhuru Park seen as a move to sabotage the main event held in Nakuru and presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Justice Odunga was also criticized by Jubilee legislators for quashing Ksh2.5 billion ballot papers tender awarded to a Dubai-based firm Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), in a petition filed by CORD.
Justice George Odunga has also stopped IEBC voter register audit by KMPG in a case also filed by Opposition coalition CORD.
He was however applauded by several quarters for ordering the reconsideration of applications for Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice positions to include all applicants.
Other judges moved include Justice Msagha Mbogholi who will now head Nairobi’s Milimani High Court Civil Division while Justice Fred Ochieng will be the presiding judge at the Commercial Division.
Veteran judge Aggrey Muchelule is now the presiding judge in the Family Division, Hedwig Ong’udi will head the newly created Economic Crimes Division while Justice Nderi Nduma will be the presiding judge of Nairobi’s Employment and Labour Relations Court.
Justice Enock Chacha Mwita will now head the Constitutional and Human Rights Division while Justice Jessie Lesiit will be the new presiding judge at the Criminal Division.
The reshuffle takes effect from January 9, 2017.