What you need to know:
- Justice Koome said no formal report had been made to her as the head of the Judiciary and chairperson of Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
Chief Justice Martha Koome has urged judges to continue dispensing their duties without fear, saying the independence of the Judiciary and their constitutional duties are protected by the Constitution.
In a statement following the arrest of two judges on Thursday, Justice Koome said no formal report had been made to her as the head of the Judiciary and chairperson of Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
She said, however, that High Court judges Aggrey Muchelule and Said Chitembwe notified her that they recorded statements at the headquarters of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), after a search was conducted at their chambers at the Milimani Law Courts.
The two Judges were picked up on Thursday afternoon as they headed for lunch and turned back to their chambers where a search was conducted, but which did not yield anything. They were later driven to DCI headquarters where they recorded statements in relation to alleged bribery and abuse of office.
Justice Koome said their arrest has caused anxiety among judges and judicial officers but urged them not to fear.
"I assure all judges and judicial officers that independence of the Judiciary and their constitutional duties are protected by the Constitution. They should therefore continue discharging their duties without any fear, in accordance with their oath of office," the CJ said.
She added: "I take note that the matter has been filed at the High Court and any comments on it are inappropriate. I will wait findings of the investigations and at the opportune time, make a full statement."
Order against arrest
Meanwhile, the High Court has barred the DCI and the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji from arresting or charging the two judges.
Justice Jairus Ngaah issued the order barring the arrest and prosecution of the two judicial officers, pending determination of a case filed by the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA).
“To be precise, the leave granted hereby stays any decision or action to investigate, summon, arrest or charge the applicant on anything connected with the search conducted in the applicant's chambers on the July 22, pending hearing and determination of the substantive motion or until such further orders that this court may deem fit to issue,” Justice Ngaah ruled.
The association later issued a statement condemning the arrests, saying they were meant to intimidate the judges.
“We believe that this intimidation is part of the wider agenda by outside forces to influence the Judiciary in its operations,” KMJA secretary-general Derrick Kuto said.
The Senior Counsel Bar through its chairman Fred Ojiambo termed the arrest of the two judges the most brazen attack on the independence of judges.
Mr Ojiambo said the effect of the arrests would be diminishing the capacity of the judges to rule freely and without favour, on any matter before them.
“The final bastion of any democracy is the rule of law, which is the certainty the people have in a just and fair Judiciary, now cowed by the intimidatory acts by any other arm of government,” Senior Counsel Ojiambo said in a statement.
He said such a move is a sure step towards lawless rule and autocracy.
Earlier, DPP Noordin Haji said he was not aware of the circumstances that led to the arrest of the two judges.
In what could be another collision between the DPP and the DCI, the former said his office has not received any investigation file concerning the judges.
In a statement, Mr Haji refuted claims that he sanctioned and ordered for the arrest.
"Contrary to reports by one Eric Theuri, purportedly speaking for LSK, blaming the DPP for the arrest, the DPP is not aware of circumstances which led to arrest or questioning of two judges, neither has his office received any investigation files concerning them. In the event the file (s) is presented to the ODPP for advice, the DPP will direct as appropriate," read the statement.
But the DCI said the two judges were quizzed alongside their "accomplices" and will assist with investigations.
The agency stated that in arresting and questioning the two judges and their accomplices, it was acting on intelligence reports on allegations of corruption and abuse of office.
It said its move was guided by Article 244(b) of the Constitution, which says the objects and functions of the National Police Service are to "prevent corruption and promote and practice transparency and accountability", among others.
The DCI said that as soon as the probe is completed, "appropriate action will be taken in consultation with all the relevant agencies and authorities as provided by the law".