NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – Court of Appeal Judge David Maraga on Wednesday put up a spirited fight against allegations of bribery, dishonesty and being swayed by his ethnicity in exercising his judicial functions.
First on the list of accusers was the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) which presented allegations from the Rift Valley branch where members who requested anonymity accused Justice Maraga of cutting deals with a politician for favourable judgments.
Justice Maraga was appearing before the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board which is chaired by Sharad Rao.
He denied the allegations presented by LSK Secretary Apollo Mboya to the extent of swearing with the Bible for having never taken a bribe in his career spanning over 25 years. “I am a practising Christian… I am an elder of the Seventh Day Adventist for years now. I understand that people do swear falsely but I am serious about it and want to declare before this board and to the nation that I have never taken a bribe,” he swore dismissing allegations that he cut a deal with an unnamed Nakuru politician.
Mboya failed to name the politician who was said to have cut a deal with the judge. He insisted that the report of the LSK from Nakuru did not represent the opinion of the entire LSK and that the professional society had not met and adopted a position on Justice Maraga.
“If you go to Nakuru Police station you are not going to find a single complaint filed against me whereas you will find many cases filed against lawyers. If they have this information let them report to the police in confidence, I am ready to face it,” Justice Maraga countered.
He also defended his decision to reduce a murder charge to manslaughter of the man who killed one-time Ainamoi MP David Kimutai in 2008.
He said that tribe did not sway his decision to reduce the murder charge against Andrew Moeche.
“The reason this allegation is being raised is because the accused person is my tribesman. I do not look at myself as a Kisii when am working; I am a Judge of the High Court and of the Court of Appeal. It would have been even better if these LSK members had several of my judgments to make comparisons,” he asserted adding that every case was determined based on its facts.
Maraga also dismissed accusations of dishonesty against him by advocate Peter Ngoge Odiwour saying that the lawyer was bitter having failed to get decisions that he agrees with.
Odiwour got himself in trouble with the Board as he was deemed argumentative and not basing his allegations on the very accusations he had earlier tabled.
“The unfortunate thing about counsel Ngoge is that when you disagree with his application you are incompetent, corrupt and whatever else he might call you,” insisted Maraga who was accompanied by his lawyer Ochieng Oduol.
Justice Maraga also faced allegations of arrogance and unfair determination of a case from Festus Langat, a former worker of the defunct Kenya Post and Telecommunications Corporation.
He becomes the second judge to opt for open scrutiny after Martha Koome requested the same route as the judicial officers undergo a constitutional requirement of being vetted in a bid to rid the Judiciary of sleaze and poor public image.
Maraga has assured those who have testified against him that he will never victimize them if he was cleared by the vetting board to continue with his practice.