, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board on Thursday rejected Justice Nicholas Ombija’s notice of early retirement and instead opted to retire him themselves.
The Board, for the second time, found Ombija unsuitable to continue serving as a judge on the grounds that he did not “effectively refute” complaints lodged against him prior to promulgation of the Constitution.
Board Chairman Sharad Rao said they had taken the decision to reject Ombija’s notice of early retirement on two grounds: one, they declared his letter of retirement invalid and two, they held that the option was simply no longer available to him.
“The option to retire for a judge who did not wish to be vetted was available only for three months from the commencement of the (JMVB) Act (May 19, 2011),” Board Chairman Sharad Rao said at a press briefing.
As for the letter, he said it was invalid as it was addressed to him and not to Ombija’s employer, the Judicial Service Commission.
“The proper procedure in the event of seeking early retirement is to notify his employer the Judicial Service Commission and not the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board,” Rao said.
Ombija was first found unsuitable to continue serving as a judge in 2012 but he applied for a review on the grounds that there was apparent bias on the part of the vetting board.
The JMVB agreed to re-vet him but Ombija challenged their authority to do so in the High Court which dismissed his petition.
He appealed the dismissal and the Court of Appeal found in his favour; declaring him suitable to continue to serve in December last year.
The JMVB however later got its way after the Supreme Court on March 7 overturned the Court of Appeal decision.
These are the events that eventually led up to Ombija writing to the JMVB in a letter dated March 8, and opting out of the exercise.
The complaints that had been lodged against the judge were that he harassed a female advocate, committed a girl to an all-boys borstal, in addition to other complaints lodged by the Law Society of Kenya.