Detectives on Thursday caused a scene that rocked the legal fraternity to the core, when they arrested and questioned two High Court judges for hours without revealing their crimes.
Justices Aggrey Muchelule and Said Chitembwe spent the better part of their afternoon at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) where they recorded statements.
Justice Muchelule was on his way to deliver pending judgments, while Justice Chitembwe was attending to a law student when detectives stormed their offices that are just a wall apart and arrested them.
Detectives searched both offices before taking them to the DCI headquarters for questioning. The judges’ lawyer Danstan Omari later told journalists that the detectives were searching “for money” but “did not find even a single penny”.
Both judges were released after 6pm, with DCI boss George Kinoti refusing to address journalists who had camped at his Kiambu Road offices for more than four hours waiting for an official statement on the arrests.
Although he had promised to issue a statement on the matter, his secretary told reporters that he had “another commitment”.
The decision by Mr Kinoti has left a puzzle over the arrests, as some quarters in legal circles speculated that detectives were investigating corruption claims.
Justice Muchelule was the first to leave around 6pm. Justice Chitembwe followed 30 minutes later. Speaking to the press at the DCI offices, Mr Omari accused the Executive of attempting to intimidate the Judiciary — a claim that was echoed by LSK Nairobi branch chairperson Erick Theuri.
“We have no doubts in our minds that these are well calculated but poorly executed attempts to intimidate the judges and we are not going to take this lightly,” Mr Theuri said.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji was also put on notice for allowing the arbitrary arrest of senior judicial officers.
Mr Omari said his two clients will challenge the DCI action in court today, citing violation of their fundamental rights.
The procedure of arresting a sitting judge, he said, was well spelt out after the arrest of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu in 2018 over alleged corruption. Her case is pending.
He said police must first inform the Judicial Service Commission before arresting any judge as they enjoy security of tenure.