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Justice Philip Tunoi probe team begins work

By Luke Anami and Kamau Muthoni | March 8th 2016

A tribunal set up to investigate Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi will publish rules to guide its proceedings by Friday.

The tribunal will investigate claims that Justice Tunoi received a Sh200 million bribe from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to influence the outcome of a petition challenging his election. 

"Justice Philip Tunoi is a senior judge and thus we have to set up mechanisms under which we will conduct the hearings. We had an informal meeting to know each other and we will have gazetted the rules by Friday," Tribunal chairman Sharad Rao said.

Six members of the tribunal met at the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board offices in Nairobi yesterday. Justice Jonathan Havelock was not present. Mr Rao said Havelock is in Tanzania and will be sworn in once he returns.

The team composed of Justice Roselyn Korir, Judith Guserwa, Abdirashid Abdullahi, George Munji, James Kaberere, Rao and Havelock would be crippled if Havelock declines the offer.

"There are steps we cannot take unless we are a full team," Rao said.

A dark cloud also hangs over the tribunal as Rao's qualification for the tribunal's chairmanship is being contested at the High Court.

Rao said the team has not been supplied with the allegations, adding that they will be summoning the judge once everything is set so that he can decide whether he wants the hearings to be public.

The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board (JMVB) Chairman said the board has only vetted a third of judges and magistrates. This means that a majority of judges and magistrates might not be vetted by the time JMVB's term expires.

Rao believes that Kenyans have lost faith in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), as it has allegedly not managed to end corruption at the Judiciary.

He said during a meeting in Naivasha last month, it was agreed that there should be an independent commission other than JSC that should be taking complaints on judges and magistrates.

Interestingly, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga is JSC chairman and he was the first to drum-beat that his juniors in the Judiciary had allegedly gone back to the old ways of self-enrichment.

This was confirmed by Rao who said a majority of graft complaints affected magistrates.

Dr Mutunga had asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to conduct a forensic audit on his lifestyle and that of the judges.

"The Chief Justice was concerned that corruption has crept back in the Judiciary and this is majorly in relation to those we have not yet vetted. We were majorly doing a financial audit and this was limited by the Supreme Court's ruling that it should be before the promulgation of the Constitution (in 2010). A majority of those who could not explain where they got extra income were magistrates as compared to judges," Rao said.

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