Judges and Magistrates vetting board sacks three magistrates

NAIROBI, KENYA: The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board (JMVB) has found three magistrates unsuitable to continue serving in the Judiciary.

While releasing the determination, the board expressed concern that lack of an audit mechanism to monitor and appraise the performance of the judicial officers had made most magistrates to adopt unconventional working styles.

The board dismissed Sogomo Gathogo, Innocent Maisiba and Isaac Orege, bringing the number of judges and magistrates relieved of their duties since the commencement of the vetting exercise three years ago to 32.

In the determination released on Tuesday by the Chairman Sharad Rao, 38 other magistrates were cleared whereas competency, unexplained bank deposits, poor writing skills and lack of internal independence were cited as some of the main issues arising from the exercise.

In reaching the decision to sack Gathogo, who was a magistrate based in Moyale, the board observed that he was abusive and used derogatory language in court.

The Board also found that the magistrate had failed to satisfactorily explain his financial transactions and had given the panel a general response without adequate substantiation.

"In terms of section 23(1) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and sections 13, 18, and 21 of the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act No. 2 of 2011, the Board unanimously determines that Gathogo is not suitable to continue serving as a Magistrate," said Rao.

It was alleged by a complainant that Maisiba conducted court proceedings while drunk.

The Judicial Service Commission had also notified the Board that they had received complaints about the magistrate's habitual drunkenness and had warned him about it but the magistrate denied the allegations.

The board questioned Orege over claims that he continued to receive a salary from the Lands Ministry for a period of three and a half months after he resigned despite having joined the judiciary.

It was noted that while earning the Lands salary, the magistrate also drew salary advances from Judiciary, so technically he was earning a double salary.

"The Board also notes that he converted the irregularly earned salary to his own use. That when he began earning from the Judiciary he never refunded the money he had wrongfully received. Indeed he used the money and went underground," said Rao.

The chairman added that in its findings it had established that majority of the vetted officers had large deposits in their accounts which exceeded the earning and the source remained unexplained.