The Faculty of Law, the UON Law Students Professional Association (UONLSPA) and the Cohesion and National Values Committee chaired by Dr. Kenneth Wyne Mutuma, its patron, has organized a series of monthly public lectures on legal topics to be delivered by distinguished legal practitioners in various areas in the justice sector. UONLSPA is a student association at the Faculty of Law seeking to create a link between students and the legal profession by disseminating knowledge on the legal market and facilitating access to opportunities, thereby enhancing preparation for and a smoother transition into legal practice.
The first of these monthly public lectures was delivered by the Honourable Justice William Ouko SCJ CBS, a judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya and former President of the Court of Appeal at the Faculty of Law, Parklands Campus on 17th March 2023. The judge who was accompanied by his daughter, Joy Ouko, spoke on the topic of access to justice and mentorship in law.
The ceremony was officially opened by the Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. Winifred Kamau, who happens to be his Lordship’s classmate. This followed a welcome address by the Patron, Dr Kenneth Wyne Mutuma who pointed out the numerous opportunities that he intended to make accessible to the students, through the professional association. Following her very inspirational speech relating to her career in law, the Dean commended the professional association for the great initiative and promised the administration’s support.
His Lordship Justice Ouko then took the floor and delivered a insightful and sensational lecture on the two issues of Access to Justice and mentorship in law, expounding on each and giving practical examples of his journey including how he and her Ladyship the Chief Justice mentored one another as each other’s bosses during various periods of their Journeys. When the CJ was a judge of the Court of Appeal, his Lordship was the Court’s President. Justice Ouko promised to send his brothers and sisters on the Supreme Court bench to deliver lectures, starting with Hon Justice Lenaola SCJ. The entire Supreme Court bench as presently constituted is composed of alumni of the University of Nairobi Faculty of Law. Various senior members of faculty were present including Prof Ben Sihanya, Dr Muthomi Thiankolu and Dr Kenneth Wyne Mutuma who made brief remarks.
In addition, he responded to questions posed by the hundreds of law students present. Urging the students to read law in depth and to analyze judicial decisions holistically, he clarified the court’s reasoning in several Supreme Court decisions. A key decision related to the impeachment of former Nairobi Governor Hon Mike Mbuvi Sonko, where the court was accused of examining the merits of the case even after finding that it lacked jurisdiction. He clarified that occasionally, the Supreme Court will do so when it finds it necessary to clarify the law relating to an area, in this case the law relating to impeachment of Governors.
Relating to Presidential elections, he touched upon the 2022 unanimous Judgment in Odinga & 16 others v Ruto & 10 others; Law Society of Kenya & 4 others (Amicus Curiae) 2022 eKLR dismissing claims of electoral malpractice in the 2022 General election leading to the election of His Excellency President Dr William Somei Ruto. He further clarified his dissenting opinion in the recent case of NGOS Coordination Board vs. Eric Gitari & 5 Others (2023)eKLR where he reasoned that the right to association does not extend to illegal activities. The majority decision was that the Board’s refusal to reserve the name intended NGO on the ground that “Sections 162, 163 and 165 of the Penal Code criminalizes Gay and Lesbian liaisons” was discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation in view of article 27(4) of the Constitution, and inv isolation of the right to associate.
The faculty of law and the law students professional association hopes to organize such lectures on a monthly basis and to progressively stream the lecture series.