A tribunal formed to investigate High Court judge Justice Said Juma Chitembwe has recommended his removal from office over gross misconduct.

Then President Uhuru Kenyatta suspended Justice Chitembwe on May 18, 2022, over claims of gross misconduct and formed a tribunal to consider the petition for his removal from office.

In a Gazette Notice dated May 18, the President appointed a 12-member tribunal to conduct a probe into the gross misconduct accusations facing Chitembwe.

Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi of the Court of Appeal chaired the tribunal.

Other members were Senior Counsel Fred Ojiambo, Justice Abida Ali Aroni, Justice Nzioki wa Makau, James Oduol, Retired General Jackson Ndung’u and Dr Lydia Nzomo.

Senior Counsel Kiragu Kimani was the lead counsel while Jasper Mbiuki and Sarah Yamo were Joint Secretaries.

Joseph Riungu and Edward Omotii Nyang’au were appointed as assistant secretaries.

“Mandate of the tribunal shall be to consider the petition for the removal of Hon Justice Said Juma Chitembwe from the office that was submitted by the Judicial Service Commission and to inquire into the allegations therein,” the Gazette notice read in part.

JSC on May 4 sent a petition to the President to form a tribunal to investigate conduct of the judge over leaked video footage by former Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko, which showed the judge discussing how to compromise a case.

Commission resolved to initiate proceedings to investigate Chitembwe on its own motion following the said footage.

Three petitions had been filed by Francis Wambua, Stephen Ooko and John Wangai, Imgrad Beige and David Leboo ole Kilusu seeking the removal of Chitembwe on allegations of impropriety and gross misconduct.

Petitions by Ooko and Wangai and Beige and Kilusu were withdrawn while the one petition filed by Wambua was terminated halfway.

Commission had stated that in its meeting of April 27, 2023, it considered the report of the panel on the petition it had initiated on its own motion and was satisfied that it disclosed grounds for the removal of the judge, pursuant to provisions of Article 168(1) of the Constitution.

“Accordingly, the commission resolved to send the petition to His Excellency the President for his further action in accordance with Article 168(4) of the Constitution,” the statement.

The panel comprised of Prof Olive Mugenda, Felix Kosgei, Justice David Majanja, Patrick Gichohi and Evelyne Olwande.

In the amateur video released by Sonko, a man believed to be the judge is seen receiving a bag full of money from a female lawyer for the purpose of defeating justice.

In the expose, a man alleged to be George Kariuki and believed to be the Deputy State House Comptroller, claims to have been sent by “State House” to convince Chitembwe not to stop Sonko’s impeachment.

Dubbed: “The Rot in the Kenyan Judiciary” the first episode of a five-part series showed events leading to Sonko’s impeachment and Chitembwe’s alleged involvement in fraudulent dealings in his chambers.

In the petition filed by Imgard Beige and David ole Kilusu, the embattled judge is accused of entertaining a succession case regarding an immovable property located outside the court’s supervisory and administrative jurisdiction.

The duo, in their petition, claimed Justice Chitembwe, who was then stationed at Malindi High Court, handled a succession case, which was concluded with a judgment on May 16, 2018.

Petitioners, who are also directors of Pacific Frontier Seas Limited, which was an objector in the suit, claimed the judge declined to transfer the file to Mombasa High Court which had the geographical and supervisory jurisdiction.


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