Sonko petitions JSC for removal of judge


Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko in his private Nairobi office on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has officially registered his complaint against the conduct of High Court Judge Said Chitembwe at the Judicial Service Commission.

Although the petition was filed by Francis Wambua through lawyer John Khaminwa, the former governor filed a lengthy affidavit detailing allegations of misconduct to support the judge’s removal.

“I have disclosed sufficient evidence to the commission and it is in public interest that he be removed from office forthwith for gross judicial misconduct,” swore Sonko.

The former governor caused a storm last week when he posted a series of video clips on his social media platform handles in what he claimed was an expose’ on conspiracy among judicial officers to dismiss his impeachment case.

Justice Chitembwe, while appearing in an interview on KTN News earlier this week, denied the allegations, terming them a set-up to paint him as corrupt when he did not receive any bribe to influence the outcome of the Sonko case.

According to the judge, he was never approached by anyone to compromise the case. He said the videos captured of him having a conversation with the former governor were taken more than two months after the court had delivered its judgment.

The JSC had already confirmed receiving the complaint against the judge and, on Monday, gave him two weeks to file his response.

Sonko, in his affidavit yesterday, said that although he had filed an appeal against the judgment delivered by Justice Chitembwe alongside two other judges, he believes the High Court mishandled his case which warrants the JSC’s intervention.

He claims that the judge had an interest in a piece of land which he (Sonko) rejected and he believes this, in some way, influenced the outcome of his case.

Chitembwe on the other hand says the videos posted online were edited and manipulated to fit a specific narrative and that the land in question was owned by Sonko.

He also said a man identified in the videos as his brother is not related to him, adding that they only live in the same rural area.

The High court judge also questioned the motive of sharing the videos online and said whoever had any accusations to make against him was free to lodge a complaint with JSC and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Chitembwe says that on the day the video was taken, a consulate official of a foreign country had asked him for advice on a piece of land he was to buy from Sonko.

“He pleaded with me to allow him to come to my house with the politician whom I had cut links with earlier. He was afraid he might be conned,” he said, in an earlier interview with The Standard.

The land in question, Chitembwe says, was at the centre of a dispute after a petition challenging its ownership was filed in court.

“We were not trying to compromise any court case that day. They were pursuing appellants, asking them to withdraw the case for an out-of-court settlement,” the judge said.

Sonko believes the judge should have recused himself from the matter. The former governor, in his petition, said he would supply JSC with more audio recordings to prove his case against Chitembwe. 

The petitioner (Wambua), who identified himself as Sonko’s friend and assistant, swore that he has evidence to prove the claims against the judge.

Wambua also stated that he, alongside one other person, are the ones who wore eyewear recorders that they used to capture the conversations between Sonko and the judge, and which the former governor shared on his online platforms.

At the same time, the Court of Appeal has scheduled December 1 for hearing of Sonko’s appeal against his impeachment.

The appeal will be heard by a bench of three judges to be appointed by the court’s president, Justice Daniel Musinga.