Judiciary on trial: Tunoi saga deals courts a blow

February 5, 2016 6:30 am
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A pay-off, one Geoffrey Kiplagat alleges, from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to Supreme Court Justice Philip Tunoi in exchange for a favourable verdict/CFM
A pay-off, one Geoffrey Kiplagat alleges, from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to Supreme Court Justice Philip Tunoi in exchange for a favourable verdict/CFM
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – The story of a briefcase chock full of notes exchanging hands in the form of an ‘incentive’ is not new to Kenyans.

But what it may lack in novelty, it makes up for in conspiracy and rarely fails to set tongues wagging.

The briefcase of the moment has been described as “very big” and brown and is alleged to have contained Sh200 million in US dollars.

A pay-off, one Geoffrey Kiplagat alleges, from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to Supreme Court Justice Philip Tunoi in exchange for a favourable verdict.

READ: How Kidero bought a judge: the whistleblower’s claim

A story whose veracity the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will make a determination on, this Friday.

But with the promulgation of the Constitution on August 27, 2010, there are those who believed the story of the briefcase was one relegated to history; together with the repealed Constitution.

Fewer still believed that in its retelling, it would involve constitutional offices created for the express purpose of guarding against impunity.

True or false, the charges levelled against Tunoi, have called into question the integrity of an institution whose word is law and therefore threatened the very foundation on which Kenya’s democracy is built.

It is for this reason that Mutula Kilonzo, Jnr, an advocate whose firm Kilonzo & Co. has represented none other than a former Head of State, Daniel arap Moi, and two judges against bribery allegations, believes that a public hearing is in order in the Justice Tunoi matter.

Kilonzo Jnr concurs with the late US Supreme Court Associate Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis who famously stated: “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

Kilonzo Jnr argues that the formation of a tribunal whose sittings would be public, is the best way to restore confidence in a Judiciary whose own head, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, has cast doubt on its integrity by accusing judges of bribing one another in order to secure a seat on the JSC.

READ: Mutunga ‘pained’ by persistent rot in the Judiciary

“I would myself advise, just as we did in Justice (Philip) Waki’s case, that this is done out in public because Justice Tunoi is now being tried in the court of public opinion. Somebody just can’t say I saw you roll down the window. To determine the veracity of Kamlesh Pattni’s testimony that he gave former President Daniel arap Moi Sh5 million, we carried the money physically and we determined that you could not actually fit it in a briefcase.”

Justice Waki who himself faced a tribunal, expressed confidence in the process on phone with Capital FM News on Thursday.

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