NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has 14 days to suspend Supreme Court Justice Philip Tunoi and appoint a tribunal to investigate allegations that he took a Sh200 million bribe from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero on receipt of the Judicial Service Commission recommendation.
The Judicial Service Commission on Friday announced that it had established that there was improper conduct between Tunoi and agents of Governor Kidero.
“The commission is satisfied that from the totality of the material and information presented before it, there was inappropriate interaction and communication between Justice Tunoi and agents of a litigant in a matter pending before the Supreme Court,” Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Chairman of the JSC, announced.
The JSC has however left it to the tribunal to determine the veracity of the bribery claim made by one Geoffrey Kiplagat.
“Whether or not there is material to suggest that a bribe was given to Justice Tunoi on August 27, 2014 in order to influence the decision in Supreme Court Election Petition No 18/2014 Evans Kidero & 4 Others -vs- Ferdinand Waititu Ndung’u and 4 others to favour the petitioner, the commission is satisfied that this is an issue that requires further investigation by the said tribunal.”
The JSC on January 27 charged six of its members with the task of investigating Kiplagat’s accusations against Tunoi as contained in an affidavit sworn on November 22, 2014; three months after the Supreme Court returned a verdict favourable to Kidero in the aforementioned petition.
On Wednesday the commission extended the committee’s timeline to today and based on its findings was, “satisfied that a prima facie case of gross misconduct and misbehaviour has been disclosed against Justice Tunoi.”
Justice Tunoi who appeared before the committee on Monday denied taking a bribe from Kidero and described the accusations as, “cheap fiction,” created by the JSC in order to forcibly remove him from office. Tunoi currently has a case pending before the Court of Appeal challenging the JSC decision to retire him at 70.
He did not however deny being acquainted with Kiplagat who in his affidavit claims to have visited him in his office more than ten times.
“The depondent is a busybody who pretends to be connected to persons in the public service,” is how Tunoi described his dealings with Kiplagat.
Kidero, who appeared before the committee on Tuesday, denied that Kiplagat ever acted as his agent and denied even knowing him.
The commission having found that contrary to their assertions there was, “inappropriate interaction and communication,” between Kidero and Tunoi, President Kenyatta is tasked with appointing a tribunal consisting of a chairperson and three other members who hold or have held office as judges of a superior court or are qualified to do so, an advocate of 15 years standing and two other persons with experience in public affairs.