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Investor wants judge probed over camp demolition

By Daniel Chege | September 29th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

The demolished Mara Rafiki Camp that was located in the Masai Mara. It was destroyed on December 22, 2017, by the Narok County Government. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

A businessman has petitioned the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to investigate the conduct of Justice Mohammad Kullow for abuse of power.

Uwe Heerdes, the director of Mara Rafiki Camp, which was located in the world-famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, accuses Justice Kullow of misusing his powers by ordering the destruction of the camp while aware that a court of similar jurisdiction had temporarily halted the demolitions.

The order saw the destruction on December 22, 2017 of the camp valued at Sh221,310,201.

Demonstrated bias

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Through his lawyers Kipkoech Ng’etich and Peter Okiro, Mr Heerdes said the judge, who sat at the Narok Environment and Land Courts, was malicious and colluded with the County Government of Narok and the landlord to attempt to illegally dispossess him of the camp.

He claimed that the judge demonstrated bias and incompetence when he issued the orders ex parte without allowing them time to defend themselves or appeal.

“The orders were made and the applicant’s camp was destroyed within six hours, leading to loss of a 10-year investment,” reads the complaint.

The businessman also accused the judge of refusing to release the judicial review file to the registry for over a year after the ruling, denying the applicants the opportunity to appeal.

“In the consequence of the foregoing, the applicant has suffered loss and damage of the camp and his wife, Iris Heerbes, who died of heart attack after the destruction,” he said.

In his response dated August 17, 2020, Justice Kullow asked the JSC to dismiss the petition, saying that the complaint was outside his jurisdiction and he is thus not liable.

He accused the applicant of instituting an invalid complaint in an attempt to embarrass him.

“The complaint does not constitute a valid complaint to be heard by the noble JSC,” he submitted.

He denied withholding the file, claiming that he set the date that would accommodate the applicant who resided in Germany.

“In my capacity as a judge, I have always and shall continue to discharge my duties as per the oath of office and in good faith,” he said.

Obstructing hippos

He added that allegations that he was colluding with the county and the landlords were untrue and asked the applicant to prove his claims.

The applicant wants JSC to investigate the conduct of the judge and if found guilty, be removed from office.

In his order, Justice Kullow ruled that the camp had extended its boundaries thereby obstructing the paths of hippopotamus along Mara River.

He ordered stoppage of the construction of the camp, terming it illegal. He said the camp was unlawfully depositing construction materials along the Mara River banks.

The matter will be heard on October 12, 2020 before the JSC.

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