Kenyan judge denies graft charge

December 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 29- Kakamega Resident High Court judge Said Juma Chitembwe was on Tuesday charged with abuse of office and fraudulently making payments worth Sh8 million using public resources.

Justice Chitembwe who appeared before magistrate Lucy Nyambura denied the charge and was released on a cash bail of Sh500, 000.

“It is alleged that on or about 7th July 2008, at the NSSF Building, being persons whose functions concerned the management of public property, to wit, the funds of the National Social Security Fund as the Corporation Secretary and Managing Trustee respectively, used their respective offices to improperly confer a benefit on M/s Kipkenda, Lilan & Co. Advocates by paying the said firm a sum of Sh8, 071,724.00 for services not adequately rendered in respect of sale of Kenyatta Avenue plots belonging to the said NSSF,” read part of the charge sheet.

Justice Chitembwe was charged together with Rachael Lumbasyo, the former NSSF Managing Trustee but she was not present in court.

The judge was flown from Mombasa to Nairobi on Monday night to answer to the offences which he allegedly committed when he was the Company Secretary of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

He was removed from the fund last year alongside Mrs Lumbasyo by Labour Minister John Munyes.

One of his lawyers Steven Mwenesi however maintained that his client was innocent.

“He has pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him and we now wait for the trial,” said Mr Mwenesi.

Mr Mwenesi questioned why the background checks made before his appointment as a judge did not reveal any malpractices.

“Justice Chitembwe was vetted and appointed a judge of the High Court of Kenya. The Judicial Service Commission must have done their job. Is this a complaint from the same Commission,” he posed.

“If so, where were they when it is said that in 2008, he did whatever is now alleged? I think it’s the Judiciary again on trial,” he continued.

The case will be mentioned on January 6.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Oriri Onyango said more charges might be level against the judge.


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