, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – President Mwai Kibaki suspended Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza on Wednesday and formed a tribunal to investigate her conduct, following allegations that she pinched a security guard’s nose and threatened to shoot at her.
The action by the Head of State followed recommendations by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which demanded that she faces suspension and a probe, after last month’s confrontation with Rebecca Kerubo at the Village Market shopping mall in Nairobi.
In a gazette notice issued late on Wednesday, the president said he had formed a seven-member panel to investigate the matter.
The panel includes Augustino Stephen Lawrence Ramadhan, a former Chief Justice of Tanzania, as chairman. The members are Prof Judith Mbula Behemuka, Justice (Rtd) Philip J. Ransley, Surinder Kapila, Beauttah Alukhava Siganga, Grace Barbara Ngele Madoka and Prof Mugambi Jesse Ndwiga Kanyua.
Lawyers Valeria Onyango (Lead Counsel) and Gideon Solonka Kilakoi (Assisting Counsel) were appointed to aid the tribunal.
“The mandate of the tribunal shall be to investigate the conduct of the Deputy Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Kenya, Honourable Lady Justice Nancy Makokha Baraza on the basis of Articles 168 (I)(e); 73(I)(a) and (b); and 75(I) and (2) of the Constitution and the Judicial Service Code of Conduct and Ethics, Legal Notice No. 50 and other relevant laws and matters including but not limited to the allegations contained in the petition by the Judicial Service Commission of Kenya dated 19th January, 2012 and presented to myself regarding the conduct of the Honourable Deputy Chief Justice, Lady Justice Nancy Makokha Baraza,” a dispatch from State House said.
In the discharge of its functions, the statement said, “the Tribunal shall prepare and submit a report and its recommendations thereon to me expeditiously.”
In the meantime, President Kibaki said: “Honourable Lady Justice Nancy Makokha Baraza, the Deputy Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Kenya stands suspended from exercising the functions of her office with immediate effect according to Article 168(5) of the Constitution.”
The resolution to send a petition to the president was reached at a meeting held by the JSC on January 13, 2012.
“After lengthy deliberations and review of evidence, the JSC has now resolved that it will send a petition to the president to suspend Nancy Baraza and to appoint a tribunal to investigate her,” Chief Justice Willy Mutunga told journalists after getting a report from a JSC sub-committee formed to investigate the incident.
The decision was reached by the sub-committee which the CJ formed a week earlier to investigate Baraza’s conduct and issues surrounding the incident that occurred on New Year’s Eve.
Kerubo accused the Deputy CJ of allegedly pinching her nose and threatening to shoot her when she pursued her to demand that she undergoes a routine security check.
“When I formed the sub-committee to investigate the matter, I pledged to deal with the matter conclusively but I noted that the police were probing the matter and I said that no one is above the law,” he said adding; “This was not a criminal trial.”
Last week, the police re-submitted their investigation report to the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko recommending that Baraza be prosecuted but he is yet to take action.