|Former Deputy Chief Justice: Nancy Baraza|
“In three words, I can sum up everything I have learned about life: It goes on.” These words of the famous American poet Robert Frost best illustrate the move by former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza to join the University of Nairobi’s School of Law as a lecturer.
University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor, Prof George Magoha, said that Ms Baraza has a lot to offer law students following her experience at the reformed Judiciary. “She has contributed a lot to the legal fraternity and is expected to bring a wealth of experience to the teaching of law at the university,” Prof Magoha said.
Although it is not yet clear what course she will teach, Ms Baraza is expected to bring changes to the faculty whose certificate of recognition by the Council of Legal Education is yet to be renewed. She did not answer calls or reply to text messages left on her phone as the Sunday Nation sought her comment on the move.
Law Society of Kenya chairman Eric Mutua supported her move to return to teaching. Ms Baraza has previously taught law at Kenyatta University’s Parklands campus. “The world of academia is different from the Judiciary where she was dispensing justice. Nothing would bar her from pursuing a career in teaching even in a public institution like the University of Nairobi,” Mr Mutua said. “The standards that were applied at the Judiciary are not the same in the world of academia where she will be empowering students,” he added.
Alongside Ms Baraza, other law lecturers including Justice Mary Ang’awa and lnternational law scholar, Dr Godfrey Musila, were being considered for positions at the School of Law.
Justice Ang’awa is one of the judges found unsuitable to continue serving in the Judiciary by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board. As part of efforts to meet the requirements of the Council of Legal Education for renewal of accreditation, the university last year appointed Prof Kameri-Mbote as the Dean of Faculty while Prof Musili Wambua and Prof Albert Mumma were appointed her deputies.
Founded in 1970, the school has failed to meet the requirements in terms of the number of lecturers, books (both online and hardcopies) as well as physical facilities. According to the requirements, an institution offering a law degree must have at least five copies of core titles for each course and 2,000 electronic journals and other relevant books on law.
Prof Kameri-Mbote noted that the school has since constructed a state-of-the-art moot court for students to simulate cases and was now ready for renewal of its certificate of accreditation.
“Whatever happened during her (Baraza) tenure at the Judiciary is in the public domain and we believe that it will not influence her ability to teach law. Her CV is very impressive and she has a lot to offer our students,” Prof Magoha said.
The former DCJ served as a lesson in humility as the country watched the proceedings of a tribunal appointed by President Kibaki to investigate her conduct and suitability to remain in office after she had pinched the nose of a security guard who tried to screen her at the entrance of a shopping mall.
Ms Rebecca Kerubo later lodged a complaint with the police claiming Ms Baraza had assaulted her, threatened her with a gun and warned her that “you should know people”. The incident sparked public uproar prompting the Judicial Service Commission to petition the President to suspend Ms Baraza and form a tribunal to look into her conduct. Then, Ms Baraza had only been in office as the deputy chief justice of the Supreme Court for six months.
The public was treated to drama as the country’s second most powerful judge became the subject of a prosecution. And, although witnesses gave contradictory accounts of what happened that fateful evening, the tribunal concluded that Ms Baraza had acted improperly and recommended her removal from office.