Two judges sue over defamation in election-related ruling

Justices Koome and Sichale, say in the complaint filed through their lawyer Macharia Kahonge that the defendants falsely and maliciously broadcast and published a defamatory article against them/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – Two appellate judges have sued the Nation Media Group (NMG) for defamation arising from articles broadcast and published in its daily newspaper on November 2 last year.

Justice Martha Koome and Justice Fatuma Sichale, say in the complaint filed through their lawyer Macharia Kahonge that the defendants falsely and maliciously broadcast and published a defamatory article against them alleging that they had improperly reversed High Court orders.

According to the article, the duo had issued orders reversing a finding by the High Court that some 290 election Returning Officers had been irregularly appointed, without convening a sitting.

The High Court orders had been issued by Justice Odunga in the run-up to last year’s repeat presidential election but the orders were reversed by Justices Koome and Sichale sitting in the Appellate Court.

In the suit against NMG, lawyer Kahonge also cited a story on Nation Television insinuating that the orders by the two judges were part of an attempt to manipulate officers of Court of Appeal registry.

Kahonge points out that the articles as broadcast and published insinuated that appellate judges had ill motive by working on the October 25, 2017 which happened to be a public holiday so that they could rule in favour of a party in the petition challenging the appointment of Returning Officers.

According to the lawyer, Nation newspaper journalist Walter Menya had on February 25, 2018 maliciously published article entitled “Jubilee plan to ‘fix’ Judiciary rolling full steam ahead” an article that painted judicial officers in bad light.

Kahonge argued the publication in the February 25 issue of the Nation newspaper defamed the judges as it portrayed them as fraudulent and partisan to the Jubilee Party.

He further stated that the article depicted the judges as corrupt, dishonest incompetent and having no moral standing, having breached Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity.

The judges will be seeking damages at the hearing of the defamation suit.

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