The protracted two-year power feud at the Law Society of Kenya came to screeching halt on Thursday with the formal removal of the Nelson Havi-led council.
The chairpersons of the society’s regional branches took over as the new council, with lawyer Linda Kiome- Gitonga elected as the president. Gitonga is the chairperson of the Mt Kenya branch.
The changes follow a High Court judgment on December 20 which sought to restore order at the professional outfit.
However, the court spared CEO Mercy Wambua who is to continue serving as the secretary.
The court had ordered that the Havi-led council convene in 21 days to attend to the affairs of the society.
Wambua told the Star on Thursday that she had written to Havi thrice to convene the council meeting as ordered but he failed to respond or take action.
The deposed council’s term was supposed to formally end in February to pave way for fresh elections.
But Havi has since given up the fight for the position, instead training his focus on his Westlands parliamentary seat. He has been part of Deputy President Ruto’s campaigns through UDA party.
Under the banner of branch chairs caucus, the eight-member team now becomes the substantive outfit to run the society whose affairs have been a theatre of violent drama with numerous twists and turns.
Other members of the new team caucus include Mathew Nyabena (Coast), Justus Mutia (South Eastern), Eric Theuri (Nairobi), Sussy Rautto (West Kenya) and Joshua K Martim (North Rift).
John Ochang’ (Rift Valley) and Wilkins Ochoki (South West) are also members. Nyabena is the new vice president of the society.
They replace vice president Carolyne Kamende, council members Herine Kebita, Esther Ang’awa, Aluso Ingati, Carolyne Mutheu and Faith Odhiambo. Others are Riziki Emukule, Beth Michoma, Berhard Ng’etich, George Omwansa, and Ndinda Kinyili.
“The Council of the Law Society of Kenya shall within 21 days hereof convene and hold its meeting, (whether an ordinary or an extra-ordinary meeting either in person and/or virtually), with a view of attending to the affairs of the Law Society of Kenya,” Judge Anthony Mrima had ordered.
“In the event the council is unable to either convene or hold the meeting as ordered above, the branch chairs caucus shall forthwith take charge of the role of the council for the remainder of the term of the council… The branch chairs caucus shall convene and hold meetings including general meetings in attending to the affairs of the Law Society of Kenya,” the judgement held.
The court also provided that all the resolutions and decisions made by the caucus must be subjected to ratification by the general meetings of the society.
The power fight at the society started in mid-2020 shortly after Havi and his council was elected in February of that year. The bone of contention was that Havi demanded that CEO Wambua be sacked.
But the council would return her to office in a 9-4 vote, a decision which Havi overrode, insisting that Wambua remained sacked.
Havi even placed newspaper adverts declaring the CEO to be a stranger in the society’s offices. Vice President Carolyne Kamende, council members Herine Kebita, and Esther Ang’awa sided with Havi.
Aluso Ingati, Carolyne Mutheu, Faith Odhiambo, Riziki Emukule, Beth Michoma, Berhard Ng’etich, George Omwansa, Roselyne Odede and Ndinda Kinyili dissented. The council remained irreparably divided with bitter struggle for control ensuing all through.
The vice president was at one point blamed from degrading services at the secretariat because she allegedly refused to sign relevant documents to allow access to the society’s bank accounts.
At one point, the society delayed payment of salaries for three months. It also had power and water discontented and security guards withdraw services due to non-payment.