Police are investigating a case where a mystery lawyer forged the signature of Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti and filed an application challenging orders for the top detective’s imprisonment for contempt of court.
The investigators want to find out why the advocate named Kelvin Koome volunteered to help the DCI boss in fighting his imprisonment by the High Court and blocking Mr Kinoti's imminent arrest by Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai.
Another puzzle is how the advocate used the credentials and address of another law firm to file the application on Friday through the Judiciary's e-filing system.
The application, which was reportedly lodged without the knowledge of Mr Kinoti or the Attorney-General, was filed under a certificate of urgency at the High Court's Judicial Review division.
The subject of the case are orders issued last week requiring Mr Kinoti to surrender himself to the officer-in-charge of Kamiti Maximum Security Prison with a view to serving a four-month jail term before today (Wednesday), failing which IG Mutyambai should arrest him.
The application, which was struck out on Monday for being filed irregularly and without the instructions of the DCI, sought suspension of Justice Anthony Mrima's decision to sentence Mr Kinoti to four months in jail for disobeying orders to release seven firearms belonging to city businessperson Jimi Wanjigi.
Pro bono services
When the matter came up before Justice Anthony Ndung'u yesterday, the advocate, whose identity and practising admission number was described as questionable, explained that he was offering pro bono (free) services to the DCI.
He said he was instructed by a proxy of Mr Kinoti to file the application. However, he did not name the said proxy.
During the virtual court session, it also emerged that the applicant’s admission number to the roll of advocates belonged to another lawyer with a similar name.
Upon being asked to switch on the camera of his gadget so that the court and other advocates could see his face, Mr Koome declined, saying he was using a desktop computer.
"I didn't have instructions directly from Kinoti but from a proxy," said Mr Koome, prompting the judge to wonder whether that is what the lawyer had been taught in law school.
Besides the application, Mr Koome had also filed an affidavit purportedly sworn and signed by Kinoti.
The disowned court papers indicated that the DCI boss was willing to pay a fine of Sh200,000 or its equivalent instead of the custodial sentence issued, as he is currently engaged in several investigations that have a bearing on national security.
On why he used the credentials of Owino McDowell & Co Advocates and not those of his firm, Koome & Koome advocates, to file the court papers through the e-filing system, the man explained that he was facilitated by a junior partner to do so.
He admitted that the application was irregularly filed and offered to present himself to the DCI over the matter.
Mr J. Owino, the managing partner at Owino McDowell & Co Advocates, informed the court that he was known to a lawyer who went by a similar name but not the one who was addressing the court.
"I deny filing anything. My firm is on record purportedly on this matter. It has been admitted that the documents are by Koome & Koome advocates but uploaded under my firm," he stated.
State counsel Wanjiku Mwangi from the office of the Attorney-General informed the court that the AG and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) were handling Mr Kinoti's case and had already filed an application for a stay of the imprisonment order in the constitutional division of the High Court.
"What happened on Friday was fraud. The advocate had no instructions. The DCI is investigating the matter because even the DCI's signature was forged. We dissociate ourselves from that application. There are investigations on forgery and impersonation," said Ms Mwangi.
Justice Ndung'u said the events bordered on criminal activity and left the matter to the Law Society of Kenya and the DCI to investigate.
"Koome has admitted that he filed the application without the consent of DCI. He confirms the law firm he used to file the application did not authorise him to do so. Koome's actions raise serious issues on his conduct. The conduct borders on fraud and criminal liability. This court leaves the issues of misconduct and criminal activity in the hands of the LSK and criminal investigative agencies," said Justice Ndung'u.