CJ Koome: JSC to discuss claims made against judge Said Chitembwe

Martha Koome

Chief Justice Martha Koome who is also the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Chief Justice Martha Koome has said the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) will meet and deliberate on matters raised concerning High Court judge Said Chitembwe.

In a statement, the CJ, who is the chairperson of JSC, said the commission has taken notice of what has been reported in the media and the JSC "is seized of the matter".

"The Judicial Service Commission will meet to deliberate on the issue according to its constitution and statutory set procedures," she said in a statement.

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has released tapes accusing the judge, forcing him to respond to the allegations of corruption in a TV interview. 

The CJ said Article 168(b) of the Constitution makes provision for removal of a judge of a superior court on account of a breach of the code of conduct prescribed for judges of the superior courts by an Act of Parliament.

"The removal of a judge may be initiated only by the Judicial Service Commission acting on its own motion, or on the petition of any person to the Judicial Service Commission," she said.  

Judge Chitembwe and his High Court colleague Aggrey Muchelule were taken to custody in July but they were later released without charges. 

Justice Chitembwe later admitted that he had about Sh770,000 in US currency with him when police officers raided his office.

However, the judge says the money was for school fees for his son, who studies at a university in Australia.

“That the USD7,000 in my possession was and still is my lawful money intended for my son’s school fees in Australia. I voluntarily handed over the same to the officers when I saw them do a body search on the 1st interested party (Justice Aggrey Muchelule) to avoid any misrepresentation by the said officers,” he says in an affidavit.

The police claimed that they recovered $57,000 (Sh6.2 million) from the chambers of one of the judges.

Justice Chitembwe said that the three police officers who raided Muchelule’s chambers brought an unidentified lady with them who seemed to have been under arrest. 

He added that the police did not state who she was but took her to the toilet in the chambers, searched her and allegedly recovered $50,000.

According to Justice Chitembwe, the search was done in the presence of one of Justice Muchelule’s secretaries.

“That after the search, I did remove from my pockets USD7,000 that I had been having with me for purposes of paying for my son’s school fees at the Edith Cowan University Perth Australia and handed over the same to the officers,” he said.

An officer attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), claimed that they got a tip that some judicial officers received bribes to deliver favourable judgments and rulings.

The officer said they were informed that the money would change hands in one of the judge’s residences, but the venue changed to the chambers at the Milimani Courts. The police then raided the offices without a search warrant because they had no time to obtain the order.

The Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association later challenged their arrest and prosecution before the High Court.