NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23- The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board on Saturday declared a judge and two magistrates unfit to continue holding office over complaints, including graft and delayed rulings.
While Justice Grace Nzioka and Chief Magistrate Rosemelle Mutoka were accused of being temperamental and delaying rulings, Ezra Odondi was accused of demanding for bribes—including an instance where he had been accused of having received some Sh100,000 in bribes.
Board Chairman Sharad Rao noted that there were concerns surrounding unexplained sums of money passing through Odondi’s account and that of his spouse.
“And although Odondi explained that he made an extra income selling cows and dogs, he failed to convince the Board of his suitability to continue serving in the judiciary,” the board said. “There were four complaints against the magistrate.
Nzioka was on her part accused of disrespecting advocates appearing before her, with the Board arguing that her style and conduct was unbecoming and was affecting the dispensation of justice to the public.
She was particularly accused of treating counsels curtly whenever they tried to find out when judgment would be delivered.
“The Judge failed to appreciate that her conduct had a demeaning and negative impact on both dispensation of justice and on litigants and their advocates,” he said.
“There was lack of introspection and appreciation of the effect of her inappropriate style and conduct,” Rao added.
The Board also put Mutoka to task over a case that was filed in 2003 but which was concluded seven years later, in 2010. She failed to convince the vetting board that the delay was mainly blamed on numeral judicial transfers and study leave.
Rao further noted that Mutoka only managed to deliver her judgment this year and after being questioned about it by the Board.
Concerns surrounding her temperament were also brought to question.
“A complainant appeared before the panel and gave evidence in which he stated that the Magistrate stood down his client alleging that he was smelly and refused to hear the case arising from a fatal accident on grounds that the witness was incoherent,” observed Rao.
The board however, cleared magistrates Lucy Nyambura Gacheru, Murigi Kibunja, Lillian Mutende, Boaz Olao, Dorah Odityo and Rosemary Kimingi.
Others spared the axe are Maryanne Wambui, Reuben Nyambati, Dolphine Akinyi, George Ong’ondo, Loice Chepkemoi, Margaret Wambani, Richard Odenyo and Samuel Wahome.
Although concerns were raised against Gacheru and Mulao, the board noted that it could handle them because they were time barred having been filed after their vetting.
The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) had expressed concern over the manner in which Gacheru had acquitted certain people while also indicating that it was investigating certain complaints against Olao.
Concerns raised against Kibunja were not established to the satisfaction of the Board while Mutende’s main weakness was found to be lack of diligence.
“However this could be due to the high volume of work she faced in the lower Court. The Judge is now in the High Court,” explained Rao while making reference to Mutende.
Rao also said that the Board had recommended three foreign Judges to replace those who had left and was waiting for the President and Prime Minister to clear them and forward their names to Parliament.
Justice Fred Chomba is also set to leave the Board on May 31, 2013.