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No, top Kenyan judge didn’t call president Kenyatta a ‘dictator’ for rejecting Judicial Service Commission appointments

In June 2021 Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta declined to appoint six judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to new positions in the judiciary.

Soon after, graphics quoting Joel Ngugi, one of the rejected judges, slamming Kenyatta as “a dictator” started circulating widely on Facebook. The president had turned down Ngugi’s nomination to the appeal court.

The quote reads: “Mr. Kenyatta’s decision to amend the list by JSC, isolating competent jurists is not only unconstitutional and misinformed, but also portrays him as a dictator.”

Two versions of the graphic are doing the rounds. One carries the branding of Nation, a major Kenyan news website. The other uses the logo of, another news website. Both show a photo of Ngugi, and clearly attribute the quote to him.

In October, Kenya’s high court ordered Kenyatta to appoint the JSC’s six nominees.

But did Ngugi make this public comment about the president? And did Nation and quote him as saying it?


‘Beware of fabricated graphics’

On 4 June, the day the graphics started circulating online, the Kenyan judiciary posted one version on its verified Twitter account – stamped “fake”.



“The attached message circulating on social media and purporting to quote Judge (Prof) Joel Ngugi commenting on the judges’ appointments is FAKE NEWS!” the tweet reads. “Please treat it as such.” retweeted the judiciary, adding: “BEWARE of fabricated graphics circulating on social media. Always authenticate by checking on the media houses' platforms.” The media house then tweeted Africa Check’s fact-checking tips.

We searched for the graphic on Nation’s social media platforms, and could not find it.

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