, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 28 – The Kamukunji election petition has once again been hit by a fresh hurdle after the presiding judge Fred Ochieng pulled out of the case following claims of bribery that were allegedly insinuated by the petitioner Ahmed Ibrahim.
Justice Fred Ochieng becomes the second judge to pull out of the case.
Justice Kalpana Rawal who had earlier handled the matter unexpectedly disqualified herself saying she had received threats from an unknown person she believed was sent by one of the parties.
Justice Ochieng who had previously resisted two attempts to have him removed from the petition, said that he received information from a court official that the petitioner had suggested that he had been bribed.
“I heard about what had been said and the remarks were in bad taste. And I am not happy. The petitioner did make the statement and I feel very uncomfortable to continue presiding over the case,” Justice Ochieng said.
He was apparently offended by a remark made by the Mr Ibrahim when the matter was adjourned on Wednesday for the judge to attend to other official matters.
Mr Ibrahim was quoted as saying: “You guys have influenced the judge that is why he has adjourned the matter.”
When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday morning the judge raised the issue and sought to know whether the parties were confident he should proceed with the petition.
“I so cherish my reputation that I wouldn’t allow any party to bribe me or try to influence the matter in any way, “the judge said.
The petitioner’s lawyer Steve Owino told the court that he and his client had faith in him and asked the judge to continue and conclude the case.
“We have full confidence that you can conclude this matter and we would like you to continue hearing it. No aspersions will be cast regarding your integrity.”
Lawyer Kibe Mungai who represents sitting MP Simon Mbugua said he was confident that the judge was the best to conclude the matter, but that his client was uncomfortable with the turn of events.
“In the light of the remark and in the event the petition does not succeed, it would be said that he influenced the judge. I have no issue with the court but my client is uncomfortable with you proceeding with the case,” Mr Mungai said.
The judge said his integrity would not allow him to go further with the matter and directed that the file be taken to the Chief Justice to appoint another judge to hear the case.