, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 – He walked up and down the corridors of the Supreme Court undeterred by the cameras that were there to chronicle his date with a special committee of the Judicial Service Commission empanelled in his honour.
On his entry into the building, at around 10am, he stopped on the way to his office to give the cameras enough time to capture his image. “I’ll pose all you want later,” he promised to laughter.
And true to his word, when the time came for him to appear before the committee an hour later, he walked back out into the corridor then down them with his lawyers – Fred Ngatia and Pheroze Nowrojee – in tow.
Two hours later however, date concluded, it was a different story. He quickly made his way to his office while his lawyers declined to say a word to the waiting press even after being followed into the parking lot and into their car by one of them.
The JSC committee was similarly guarded when it made its way out of its meeting room and into the corridors. It simply confirmed that Tunoi had appeared before them as had his accuser Geoffrey Kiplagat.
“The committee will take evidence from other persons whom we believe have information that will help us come to a decision on this matter,” Chairman Margaret Kobia said. “Despite the compelling public interest nature of the issue at hand, our appeal to the media and public at large is to give my committee time to deal with this matter in a manner that will be fair to all parties involved.”
But as the Swahili saying goes, there can be no secret between two people, and the gist of Tunoi’s defence made its way to the media by way of a replying affidavit to that of Kiplagat’s which accuses him of receiving Sh200 million from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to rule in his favour in an election petition.
An accusation which Tunoi has described as absurd given he claims to have taken, “minimal part in the plenary deliberation,” of the Supreme Court bench charged with determining Kidero’s petition.
He’s also in turn taken a swipe at his accuser, describing him as, “a busy body who pretends to be connected to persons in the public service.”
Peculiarly, he brings up the subject of the brown briefcase in which Kiplagat alleges the bribe was contained.
Despite denying any knowledge of it, he states: “The depondent unashamedly assumes that the briefcase contained money notwithstanding that in his narration, we had not seen any money being put in the briefcase.”
More substantively, Tunoi takes on the JSC, accusing his judge and jury of being behind his woes.
“It is illustrative that I filed a petition in the High Court on May 27, 2014 seeking a determination that my retirement age is 74 years. In that petition I named JSC and the Judiciary as the first and second respondents respectively.”
In support of his counter accusation, he’s called into question the timing of the publicisation of the bribery allegation; given Chief Justice Willy Mutunga claims to have received Kiplagat’s affidavit on November 2015 and yet it’s dated November 22, 2014.
He’s subsequently cast suspicion on lawyer Issa Mansur who acted as commissioner for oaths for Kiplagat while acting for JSC in its retirement dispute with Tunoi.
“The date inserted in the depondent’s affidavit bears unmistakable similarity to the handwriting of Issa… It is equally probable that Issa back dated the affidavit. It is more probable that the fiction was created late last year… It is thus probable that elements within the Judiciary prepared the fiction.”
Speaking to Capital News, Mansur confirmed that Kiplagat’s affidavit was indeed sworn to on November 22, 2014. “I don’t know what he did with it thereafter.”
Kobia whose committee’s mandate ends on Wednesday did not reveal, despite prompting from Capital News, if Mansur and Kidero are among those they expect to hear from on Tuesday.