Chief Justice David Maraga has dismissed claims that he has declined to occupy the official residence that was purchased for during his predecessor’s tenure, saying that the right time for him to move in is yet to come.
The residence purchased in 2013 at an estimated cost of over Sh300 million back then stirred controversy after the tender committee was accused of corruptly purchasing the residence and overpricing.
Justice Willy Mutunga could not occupy the palatial residence located in Runda estate after the procurement process was embroiled in a financial scandal that called for comprehensive investigations.
The house was billed as the official residence for Chief Justices and Mutunga, being the first Chief Justice under the Constitution 2010, was to be the first occupant but it was never to be with his tenure ending before issues could be sorted out.
Maraga said that it is not in doubt that public monies were used to purchase the residence and that he has not refused to move in.
“I have not refused to move into the residence, it is because of legal issues. There is still a case in court and as soon as issues are sorted out I will move in very fast,” said Maraga.
The house was paid for in April 2013 but an audit was to later reveal irregularities, malpractices and possible irregularities in procuring goods and services. Taxpayers were said to have lost billions of shillings in questionable deals.
The CJ spoke at the Supreme Court after receiving a courtesy call from his predecessor, Dr Mutunga. At the time when Maraga took an oath of office in October, Mutunga was out of the country and could not attend the ceremony for an official handover.
But yesterday, Mutunga handed over his final judicial report titled ‘State of the Judiciary and administration of Justice as he congratulated Maraga on his post, which he has served for about three months now.
In return, Maraga handed Mutunga his blueprint dubbed ‘sustaining judiciary transformation’, which he said entails key issues they will now be building on.
“It is good to be back here because I was not in the country when Maraga took office. We had been in discussion on the process of swearing in but had to come here for the final hand over which I had not done,” Mutunga stated.
Asked to advise on insufficient budgetary allocations the Judiciary received during his tenure, Mutunga seemingly dismissed that notion saying that they always negotiated with Parliament.
He also stated that there were robust roles within the three arms of Government and kept negotiating on arising issues.
But Maraga said the Government may at all times not be able to provide the amount institutions require but the entities still find a way to raise funds for their daily operations.
And asked whether he holds his earlier position of Kenya becoming a bandit economy, Mutunga said he still believes there are issues like corruption and that ‘he does not know whether the Government is doing enough to eradicate it’.