Speaking after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)’s announcement on Tuesday, April 27, Ngatia lamented that he had been rigged out at the last minute.
The senior counsel, whom many predicted would emerge the best, said that powerful individuals pressured a section of JSC commissioners to lower his score.
Fred Ngatia being escorted by the Secretary to the JSC Anne Amadi, at the close of his 5-hour interview session on April 20, 2021FILE
“Four commissioners from Mt Kenya region reduced my scores yesterday afternoon after they were called by powerful people. Without that intervention, I was far ahead of all the other candidates,” he explained.
Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi also read mischief in the marks awarded to Ngatia.
Speaking during an interview with Citizen TV’s Waihiga Mwaura, Havi questioned how LSK representative to the JSC, Commissioner Macharia Njeru awarded the senior counsel 42 marks.
“As LSK, we are concerned that our representative could award 42 marks to a distinguished legal practitioner who had applied for CJ. If the guy is the top lawyer, how could he be the bottom candidate for CJ?” he posed.
In 2019, Ngatia was ranked the best lawyer in Kenya by Chambers and Partners, an independent research company operating across 200 jurisdictions giving insight into the world’s leading lawyers.
The JSC announced that the decision to nominate Justice Koome was unanimous, which Havi stated could indicate interference.
“It cannot be that JSC, which appears to be under an arm of the government, will deliver to us a CJ. A commission can never reach a unanimous decision,” he criticised.
Despite pressure to disclose how the candidates ranked, the JSC declined to publicise the information.