CJ Koome: I’m yet to be told what offences Muchelule, Chitembwe committed

Chief Justice Martha Koome has vowed to protect the independence of the Judiciary. [File, Standard]

Chief Justice Martha Koome says her office has not received any report disclosing why two judges, Aggrey Muchelule and Said Chitembwe, were arrested on Thursday, July 22.

The reasons for the pair’s arrests wasn’t immediately communicated, though they recorded statements at the DCI Headquarters on Kiambu Road, Nairobi.

“No formal report has been made to me as the Head of the Judiciary or the chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission,” Koome said in a statement on Friday, July 23.

The CJ assured judges that she would protect their independence from invasion by the Executive or Legislature.

“They (judges) should, therefore, continue discharging their duties without any fear in accordance with their oath of office,” she said.

The DCI said on Twitter on Friday that they conducted the raid upon receiving information that the judges might have engaged in corruption and abuse of office.

The Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) also condemned the arrests of Justices Muchelule and Chitembwe, saying the actions amounted to “intimidation of Judicial officers”.  

“We are here to express KMJA’s concerns about the sustained and ill-advised pattern of public attacks, ‘directives’ and intimidation against the Judiciary and, more importantly, against individual judges and magistrates,” the Association’s Secretary-General Derrick Kuto said in a statement on Friday.

“The latest is the brazen attempt by the DCI to harass, intimidate and malign the good reputation of Hon Mr. Justice Aggrey Muchelule and Hon Mr. Justice Said Ali Chitembwe on Thursday 22nd July 2021.

“We believe that this intimidation is part of the wider agenda by outside forces to influence the judiciary in its operations.”

The judges’ offices were searched, with police said to have found nothing implicating.

“The search conducted yesterday (Thursday, July 22, 2021) created a scene at the offices; the DCI officers manhandled the judges by pushing them around while shouting at them to go back to their chambers as they stepped out for lunch,” said Kuto, adding: “That was gross, wrong, wicked, immoral and disrespectful to the senior judges. It was an open insult to them.

“The fact that public investigations against the judges are being conducted in secrecy without information on the complaint or complainant, that the search found nothing, and that the judges were then asked to record statements on activities of the day, confirms our position that this is pure harassment with the intention to instill fear in judges.”

Justice Aggrey Muchelule was among the six judges President Uhuru Kenyatta declined to promote in early June.

The judges have since obtained a court order barring police from arresting or pressing charges against them.