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Ahmednasir's firm sues Supreme Court judges over ban on senior lawyer

 Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi. [George Njunge, Standard]

A law firm owned by Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi is challenging orders barring him from making submissions before the Supreme Court.

The decree by Chief Justice Martha Koome was issued last month. Justice Koome accused Ahmednasir of relentlessly scandalising the court.

"In view of the foregoing, it is the decision of this court, that henceforth and from the date of this communication, you shall have no audience before the court, either by yourself, through an employee of your law firm, or any other person holding brief for you," said the CJ in a statement signed by the Registrar of Supreme Court Letizia Muthoni Wachira.

And now Ahmednasir Abdullahi LLP alongside its 11 associates have individually sued the seven Supreme Court judges over the decision to ban the lawyer, his law firm and associates from appearing before the apex court in a  reaction to his criticism. 

The associates who are before the court are Ali Osman, Peter Muchoki, Irene Jelagat, Cohen Amanya, Khadijah Said, Elizabeth Wangui, Bernard Ongeri, Tony Kiprotich and Mohammed Billow. 

By the law firm taking the war to the High Court, Ahmednasir has formally beckoned for a bout from CJ Koome, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Justices Mohammed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u, Isaac Lenaola and William Ouko.

Also sued is Muthoni, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General. In the case, their lawyer Issa Mansur argued that the decision by the apex court was not an outcome of a judicial process but rather an administrative one.

According to Mansur, the ban does not enjoy immunity from being challenged before the lower courts as it lacks legitimacy. 

"The ban which is for an unspecified period of time is a draconian step against the petitioners and all advocates presently and in future, working for the first petitioner firm from representing any client at the Supreme Court,” he said. 

Mansur told Justice Lawrence Mugambi that judges of the topmost court abused their power as they did not give his clients an opportunity to be heard before issuing the ban

He argued that they failed to disclose which part of the Supreme Court Act, the Fair Administrative Action Act and the Advocates Act they relied on. 

"In so far as the decision sanctions and or regulates the professional conduct of Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi SC, no disciplinary proceedings have been instituted against the said senior counsel in respect to the matters complained in the said letter,” he said. 

The lawyer asserted that any of the seven judges who is aggrieved by Ahmednasir’s comments should sue him. 

"In fact, the arbitrary decision of the seven judges constituting the Supreme Court conveyed through the letter dated January 18, 2024, in paragraph four acknowledges that indeed the decision conveyed therein shall have adverse impact on clients who may have instructed the first petitioner to represent them but does not offer any remedy to mitigate the harshness of the wholly inappropriate action,” said Mansur. 

It emerged that Ahmednasir is also embroiled in a separate case filed by former Chief Justice David Maraga over his alleged defamatory claims. 

Justice (Rtd) Maraga in his court documents stated that the lawyer did not learn a lesson from a dress down while the Supreme Court was delivering a judgment on his two Iranian clients Ahmad Mohammed and Sayed Mousavi. 

“The plaintiff avers that the first defendant has not learnt any lesson from the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Republic vs Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammed and another the caution given to him by the Supreme Court. The first defendant has and continues to make false, defamatory and disparaging remarks about Judges (serving or retired) and judicial officers as he now makes in his statement of defence concerning the plaintiff,” he said. 

The retired CJ was responding to Abdullahi’s response that his comments on the senior judge were fair comment and in public interest. He stood by his claims.

Meanwhile, Mansur argued that Ahmednasir is distinct from his law firm as it has other partners and employees. 

Further, he said that all others who were not a part of the standoff between the lawyer and the judges will suffer without being informed what sins they had committed. 

"While it is evident that the actions taken by the first to seventh respondents is targeted at Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi, it is pertinently clear that the petitioners stand to suffer in the dispute between the first to seventh response and Ahmednasir Abdullahi in his personal capacity and in the manner in which he has robustly exercised his freedom of expression in commenting on matters of public interest,” the court heard. 

On January 18, 2024, the Supreme Court made good its stand not to accord Ahmednasir audience as he prepared to represent his client in a Sh2 billion land case.

The case was to be heard virtually when Supreme Court judges led by Koome said they will not proceed with the case if the lawyer and or any of his agents were part of the defence. 

The court then adjourned and six judges recused themselves. Ahmednasir took to his X handle and said he is ready to make peace with the court but gave conditions. 

“Now that CJ Martha Koome today read the order of the Court where 6 judges recused themselves from the case I was to argue and further barring me from the court as long as they are members of the Court… I’m ready to MAKE PEACE with the court as follows,” he posted on X. 

The law firm and associates want the court to find that Supreme Court judges and Muthoni are not above the law. 

Mansur wants the High Court to find that the ban was an administrative decision and it cannot be used to banish Ahmednasir’s law firm, partners and associates from appearing before that court.  

They are also seeking orders to quash the ban and costs. 

A similar case was filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), which argued that the top court had usurped its powers to deal and discipline advocates adding that the ban was unfair as it also included persons and litigants who were not a part of the issue. 

Justice Mugambi ordered that they should serve the court papers and appear before Justice Chacha Mwita on February 7 when the LSK case will be mentioned.

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