, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18 – Retired Judge Leonard Njagi on Monday testified that suspended Judge Joseph Mutava sought to improperly influence him in a matter he was handling while serving on the bench of the Commercial Division of the High Court.
Njagi told the tribunal charged with determining Mutava’s suitability to continue serving as a judge that he received a text message from Mutava advising him to rule in favour of the plaintiff in the case.
“This was September 6, 2012 and the message was sent to me at 9.27am and it reads ‘HCC,’ that is High Court Civil Case, ‘705 of 2009 Sehit inv (investments) vs Josephine Onyango. I am for plf (plaintiff), Sehit. Thanks.'” he testified.
Njagi who was himself found unsuitable to continue serving as a judge by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board was the second witness to testify on Monday at the tribunal appointed in May of 2013.
The first was the Judicial Service Commission Deputy Registrar John Tamar who took to the stand after the tribunal chaired by Justice David Magara and constituted of Justice David Majanja, Justice Maureen Odero, Omesh Kapila, Patricia Kamiri Mbote (Prof), Lawrence Murugu Mute and Jedidah Pilale Ntoyai denied Mutava’s application for adjournment.
Mutava sought to adjourn the proceedings on the grounds that his lead counsel Stephen Mwenesi withdrew on Saturday; a day after they failed to secure a stay of the tribunal’s sittings in the High Court.
The tribunal did however indulge Mutava’s request to the extent that they only took Njagi’s evidence-in-chief and put off his cross-examination to Wednesday. “We are not going to adjourn the matter any further,” Justice Magara sought to make clear to Mutava’s counsel Philip Nyachoti.
The tribunal which was first gazetted on May 31, 2013 has been forced to put off its sittings on account of legal challenges filed by Mutava with the his most recent petition challenging its jurisdiction.
The tribunal is charged with investigating various complaints made against Mutava, chief among them one made by the Law Society of Kenya calling into question his motives for ruling in favour of businessman Kamlesh Pattni in the Goldenberg case.
Other witnesses lined up to testify before the tribunal are High Court Judge Weldon Korir, High Court Judge Anthony Ndung’u, Lady Justice Asenath Ongeri, Senior Principal Magistrate Dominica Nyambu, advocate Fred Ngatia and Judiciary Ombudsman Ken Bidali.