, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – It reads like something out of a John Grisham novel; a cloak-and-dagger tale of how decisions that alter the course of history are made and of the shadowy characters that pull the strings behind the curtains.
It is important to make clear from the get-go that the events narrated herein are as told by one Geoffrey Kiplagat in a sworn affidavit regarding the allegations that Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is in office because of a Sh200 million bribe paid to Supreme Court Justice Philip Tunoi and while the information is in the public domain, its veracity is under investigation.
That out of the way, Kiplagat tells a tale that brings to mind the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. A tale of covert meetings, briefcases filled with cash exchanging hands in out-of-the-way places and communication in code.
In this story, Tunoi’s code name was Cherota and Kidero’s Kibet.
But, back to the beginning; how did Kiplagat, a newsman, end up at the centre of what could be one of the biggest scandals in the history of Kenya’s Judiciary?
Kiplagat claims he was approached by prominent Nairobi businessman Mike Njeru, to act as a connect to the bespectacled, soft-spoken Justice Tunoi.
“The brief was for me to contact Justice Philip Tunoi to help Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero in his case at the Supreme Court. Mike trusted me as a networked journalist, having worked with him in the past.”
The case Kiplagat refers to was an appeal Kidero made to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal nullified his election on the grounds that his challenger, Ferdinand Waititu, was not given a fair hearing by the High Court.
According to Kiplagat’s account, his first contact with Njeru in regard to the present matter was in May 2014.
Three months before the Supreme Court returned a verdict in Kidero’s favour with an explanation from Tunoi that the Court of Appeal should not have admitted Waititu’s appeal to begin with as it was time barred.
It’s worth noting however, that while Justice Njoki Ndung’u disagreed with Tunoi’s assessment, she too reached the conclusion that the Court of Appeal erred in nullifying Kidero’s election. Her explanation was that a violation of an individual’s rights, where the outcome of the election was not at issue, did not warrant a nullification.
I digress. Having received his marching orders from Njeru on phone, Kiplagat says he reached out to Tunoi to whom he claims to have been connected.
“I came to know Justice Tunoi personally about four years ago when he intervened to help a lady whose land had been invaded by squatters in Maziwa Market along Jogoo Road where he had interceded for us.