FORMER JUDGE VETOED BY THE SAME COURT HE SERVED.

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Lawyer Rodgers Sagana for Justice Nicholas Ombija who has protested the decision by the magistrates and judges vetting board to declare him unfit to serve in the judiciary even after he informed it that he will retire voluntarily speaking to court reporters at his lawyers of office in Nairobi on Thursday March 17,2016.
BY SAM ALFAN

The High Court has dismissed an application by former Judge Nicolas Ombija contesting a decision by the Judges and Magistrate Vetting Board that found him unsuitable to hold office.

Mr Ombija sued the vetting board claiming that they acted illegally when they re-vetted him yet he had already exited his office.

Justice Weldon Korir concurred with the vetting board that the option to retire was no longer available to his former colleague Ombija.

The judge also observed that the court had no jurisdiction to determine the suit by Ombija. The former judge twice lost his bid to stop the vetting Board from subjecting him to a fresh vetting and opted for an early exit.

Justice Ombija sent a letter to the Judges and Magistrates’ Vetting Board chairman Sharad Rao and his employer the Judiciary, indicating that he has opted to go home with immediate effect.

In his retirement letter, Justice Ombija quoted the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates’ Act, which gives judges the option of either facing scrutiny or retiring from office.

Judge Ombija was found unfit to hold office by the board in 2012 which found that he was temperamental. However, he continued serving as a judge as he appealed the vetting decision.

On September 18, 2015, the Board invited him for fresh vetting over new revelations on his conduct.

Aggrieved by the decision, the judge contested the move in the High Court. He however lost the case but moved to the Court of Appeal which stayed his appearance at the vetting panel.

He told the court that the Board has no authority under the constitution or any other law to receive fresh complaints after he was vetted and found fit to serve. He said the fresh vetting was in violation of the Bill of Rights and the court had no jurisdiction to uphold and enforce such a breach.

The Court of Appeal, in its ruling on December 16, 2015, said that the Board’s attempt to subject Justice Ombija to fresh vetting was in bad faith. It ruled in his favour, which forced the Board to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court judges, led by Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga, ruled in favour of the Board, directing that the repeat vetting process be conducted without delay.

The court further directed that the vetting proceed on a daily basis, until it is concluded by March 31, as a way of ensuring that Justice Ombija’s right to a just, prompt and fair hearing is protected.

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