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Why I should be reinstated, sacked judge Martin Muya tells Supreme Court

By Paul Ogemba | July 21st 2021

Justice Martin Muya during a past court appearance in Mombasa. September 18, 2014. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

A sacked High Court judge has pleaded with the Supreme Court to be reinstated to his previous position.

Justice Martin Muya challenged the decision of a tribunal that found him guilty of misconduct. Through lawyer Philip Nyachoti, he argued that he was not accorded a fair trial and that the tribunal relied on unsubstantiated evidence when they recommended his removal from the Judiciary.

“The tribunal made a mistake by failing to apply the correct standard of proof and handled matters which were not within its jurisdiction. They ended up with a decision which was not backed by any evidence to punish a judge for doing his work,” said Nyachoti.

At the centre of the appeal is a lost court file, a Sh76 million loan dispute between NIC Bank and a businessman, and 14 lorries that had been detained as security for the loan.

The case arose in 2019 when Justice Muya handled the dispute NIC Bank had with Alfred Mutai and Kipsigis Stores over the Sh76 million debt at Bomet High Court.

The bank accused him of bias in his decision that stopped them from auctioning the traders’ 14 vehicles to recover the loan and withholding a ruling for five months, which made it impossible for the bank to appeal. The tribunal ruled that the judge was guilty of misconduct and recommended to the president to sack him.

But Nyachoti told the appellate court that the judge was not accorded a fair administration process since the file involving the dispute was not available to the tribunal to enable them confirm the allegations.

“The Judiciary stated that they could not trace the file. They made a decision without referring to the crucial evidence which could have confirmed that it was the bank that caused the case’s delay by asking for numerous adjournments,” said Nyachoti.

On claims that the bank lost Sh76 million due to the judge’s delay in issuing the reasons for his decision, Nyachoti submitted that they had a chance to appeal if they were not satisfied with the ruling. In any event, he claimed that the Judicial Service Commission acted illegally by recommending that the judge be suspended since there was no complaint against his conduct but just a letter from the bank asking that they take administrative action for the delay in handling their case.

According to Nyachoti, that was not the only case that was delayed as the judge had a backlog of cases, proceeded on leave in between and was also handling cases at Kericho High Court.

State Counsel Oscar Eredi, however, defended the tribunal, stating that they were justified in their findings after the judge failed to give a satisfactory explanation.

“All the allegations raised against him were proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Eredi. 

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