NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – Gladys Boss Shollei has been sacked as the Chief Registrar of the Kenyan Judiciary.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said a verdict had been reached by the Judicial Service Commission to remove her from office after two months of investigations into allegations of financial impropriety.
“It is the unanimous decision of the commission that the Chief Registrar of Judiciary is hereby removed from office with immediate effect,” he stated.
The JSC accused Shollei of “incompetence, misbehaviour, violation of prescribed code of conduct for judicial officers, violation of Chapter 6 and Article 32 of the Constitution of Kenya and insubordination.”
The Chief Justice told a news conference that the move was taken “to avoid politicizing the matter or sensationalism of what it viewed as an internal disciplinary process.”
“After two months of a detailed disciplinary process initiated against the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Gladys Boss Shollei, the Judicial Service Commission met today and reached a decision,” he said.
He stressed that the investigation into Shollei’s conduct was not a witch-hunt.
“In light of the gravity of the issues that inform Shollei’s removal, the JSC hereby invites the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission to commence a root-and-branch investigation of all the matters in issue,” he said.
He says the financial outlay in the entire amount of allegations against Shollei stands at Sh2.207 billion. “She has admitted to 33 allegations in which Sh1.7 billion of taxpayer funds are at risk or have been lost.”
Shollei has however denied another 38 allegations that have a cost implication of Sh250 million, “while responses for allegations with a financial outlay of Sh361,000,000 are mixed, flippant and flimsy.”
He described the allegations raised against the Chief Registrar as “grave and serious.”
“The price the commission has paid for such a drawn out process has been deliberate disinformation, distortions and sideshows intended to distract focus from the grave allegations under investigation,” the Chief Justice affirmed.
He noted that the process “has been a long, tortuous but necessary journey because JSC committed itself to a scrupulous and fair process to inquire into matters of great public interest. In spite of widespread provocation, JSC has deliberately made no public statements in order to protect the process and to respect the decision made earlier by both parties not to try the matter in the media.”
On the issue of allegations made on JSC allowances, Mutunga said it will be discussed in a bid to shed light on the matter that has raised a lot of questions on the integrity of the Judiciary.
“There have been numerous allegations about bias, misconduct and the innuendo of illegality around the payment of allowances on the part of the JSC. In good time, the JSC will engage all the key stakeholders, including Parliament and the public, in detail on these allegations as a form of accountability for the work it does and the remuneration it draws,” he said.
The decision to sack her came barely hours after Shollei declined to participate in any further disciplinary proceedings by the JSC.
Shollei appeared before the JSC on Friday morning and sought an adjournment of the proceedings to allow her prepare her defence to the myriad of allegations, but the JSC chaired by Mutunga declined.
She said she will call witnesses from the Judiciary, National Audit Office, Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission and Public Procurement Oversight Authority “to demonstrate that JSC doesn’t have the powers it purports to have.”
In a statement to newsrooms, Shollei said she will move to the High Court to seek determinations on, “inter alia, the open bias of the JSC.”
She specifically pointed out Commissioners Christine Mango, Emily Ominde, Ahmednasir Abdullahi and Mohammed Warsame as biased against her.
Other than submissions from her lawyer Donald Kipkorir, Shollei says her argument will be based on a three volumes; 200-page trove of emails from or to the Chief Justice that shows contrived conspiracy to remove her at all cost.
She also accused JSC of infringing on her rights to give her reasonable time and resources to prepare her defence and to impartial process.