JSC postpones hearing of bribery petition against Chitembwe

High Court Judge Said Juma Chitembwe

High Court Judge Said Juma Chitembwe who has been given 30 days by JSC to respond to three petitions that seek to have him removed from office on accusations of bribery and incompetence.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has granted High Court Judge Said Juma Chitembwe 30 days to respond to three petitions that seek to have him removed from office on accusations of bribery and incompetence.

The commission’s secretary, Ms Ann Amadi, in a letter to one of the petitioners, indicates that the judge made the request for extension of time on December 6 ahead of the hearing that was slated for Tuesday.

As a result, Ms Amadi explained that the oral hearing had been postponed.

“We regret to inform that the oral hearing earlier scheduled for December 14, 2021, upon which the commission had requested your participation has been postponed to a later date which shall be communicated to all parties, to allow the Hon Judge file his response within 30 days from November 25, 2021 as per his letter of request dated December 6, 2021,” reads the letter.

Ms Amadi said that the panel dealing with the petitions will give a new date for the oral hearing.

Sonko recordings

The commission also granted former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko more time to complete the recording of his statement on his allegations of gross misconduct against the judge.

Sonko was summoned to testify against Judge Chitembwe on the leaked videos christened ‘the rot in the Kenyan Judiciary’.

Ms Amadi said the commission’s attention had been drawn to several video clips, social media posts and cell phone recordings released by Sonko in which the judge’s conduct had been brought to question.

Although Sonko’s aide, Mr Francis Wambua, had filed a petition for removal of the judge from office, the registrar said the JSC had resolved to initiate proceedings on its own motion.

But in a fight back, the judge has filed a case in court seeking to quash the impending disciplinary proceedings. He wants the court to block JSC from using the video recordings made by the former governor as evidence of the alleged misconduct.

He says the videos were illegally obtained and therefore cannot form a basis for his removal.

In his affidavit, the judge says the video recordings posted by Sonko on his Facebook and Twitter pages and other social medial platforms were recordings done without his knowledge or consent.

The other parties in the conversations, whose dates are not verifiable, also did not consent to the recording, he says.

Judge apprehensive

The judge is also apprehensive and uncomfortable with the manner in which JSC processed the three petitions filed by Francis Wambua, Imgrad Beige and David Leboo ole Kilusu.

“All decisions made by JSC in respect of the petitions lodged and the proceedings have been taken without resort to any rules of procedure or practice bearing in mind the JSC’s failure to make regulations for the conduct of its proceedings,” says the judge in the court papers.

He explains that since the enactment of the Judicial Service Act (2011), JSC has not formulated any procedural regulations for determination of petitions for removal of judges from office.


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