Suspended High Court Judge Joseph Mutava with Senior Counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi arriving at Kenyatta International Convention Center, KICC in Nairobi on Monday May 16 20
BY SAM ALFAN.
In a rare show of justice, a tribunal investigating the conduct of a suspended judge has summoned Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga who was adversely mentioned in the probe during the last session.
CJ Dr Mutunga is expected to give evidence on why among other things he did not give judge Joseph Mutava an opportunity to hear his side of the story but went ahead to recommend his investigation to the Judicial Service Commission which also suspended him.
The seven-member probe team, chaired by Court of Appeal Judge David Maraga, directed its secretariat to make arrangements for the President of the Judiciary to make an appearance on a convenient day to shed light on the manner in which JSC commenced its disciplinary proceedings against the Judge.
Justice Maraga said his team had allowed the application by lawyer Philip Nyachoti, who is representing the embattled Judge, because its rules and the JSC Act allowed the Judge to offer oral and documentary evidence in support of his case.
CJ Mutunga, who chairs the JSC, had directed the Judiciary Ombudsman, Kennedy Bidali, to start preliminary investigations following a complaint lodged against Justice Mutava by Nairobi businesswoman Rose Mbithe early 2013.
Mbithe, the director of Sehit Investments Ltd, had lost an application for injunction against businesswoman Josephine Onyango in a Sh200million residential property dispute of in Karen, Nairobi that was at risk of public auction.
The civil suit was handled by retired High Court Leonard Njagi, who made the contentious ruling on December 21, 2012, but it was dumped in her compound before it was read out in open court.
Judge Njagi admitted before the tribunal that the ruling was actually drafted by his research assistant Collian Odhiambo and he had directed his secretary, Leonida Nyaboke to give it to his former clerk in the Commercial Division, Silas Kipkirui, to take it to the former Deputy Registrar, Dominica Nyambu, to assign another Judge to read it on his behalf. He had just been found unfit to serve by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board (JMVB).
Mr Bidali (Ombudsman) confirmed to the tribunal in a previous sitting that he had requested CJ Mutunga to interview both Justices Njagi and Mutava after he learnt that Mutava had allegedly solicited a Sh2.5million bribe to influence Njagi to rule in favour of Sehit Investments Ltd.
Justice Njagi showed the tribunal a text message on his mobile phone that was allegedly sent by Justice Mutava saying he was in favor of Mbithe’s firm.
Mbithe dismissed the bribery allegations and said she met Justice Mutava, his wife Jessica Mbalu and their two children at the Karen Blixen Museum Restaurant and he simply wanted to confirm whether she was the owner of the disputed property.
She denied that Judge Mutava asked for a bribe and insisted he told her that she can never to buy justice.
Mr Bidali had said Justice Mutunga had interviewed Justice Njagi but did not summon Justice Mutava.
After the preliminary investigations, the matter was forwarded to the JSC, whose sub-committee chaired by Supreme Court Judge Smoking Wanjala dismissed eight of the 11 allegations against Justice Mutava.
Senior Counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi will appear before the tribunal following Mbithe’s adverse claims against him.
He has been representing her rivals in the long-drawn civil suit that remains pending before the Supreme Court.
The tribunal will resume its sittings on Wednesday.