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Justice Ojwang suspended as tribunal appointed to probe his conduct

Justice Ojwang (L) stands suspended from office/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – Supreme Court Judge Jackton Boma Ojwang has been suspended from office after President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed a seven-member tribunal to probe his conduct.

The tribunal will be chaired by Justice Alnashir Visram with Justice (Rtd) Festus Azangalala, Ambrose Weda, Andrew Bahati Mwamuye, Lucy Kambuni, Sylvia Wanjiku Muchiri and Amina Abdalla named as members.

They will “investigate the conduct of Justice Ojwang, Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya “on the basis of Articles 168 (1) (e), 73 (1) (a) and 75 (1) and (2) of the Constitution and Judicial Service Code of Conduct and Ethics (Legal Notice No. 50 of 2003) and other relevant laws and matters.”

The probe will include but is not limited to allegations contained in the petition by the Judicial Service Commission of Kenya filed by Nelson Oduor Onyango and eight others regarding the conduct of Justice Ojwang.

The tribunal will prepare and submit a report and its recommendations to President Kenyatta expeditiously.

The gazette notice setting up the tribunal indicates that lawyer Paul Nyamodi has been appointed as the Lead Assisting Counsel while Stella Munyi will be an Assisting Counsel.

President Kenyatta has also appointed Peter Kariuki and Josiah Musili as Joint Secretaries to the tribunal.

The tribunal has been appointed following recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission.

“The petition detailed instances which the petitioners believed constituted grounds of misconduct, impropriety, conflict of interest and breach of judicial code of conduct on the part of the Judge,” Chief Justice David Maraga stated on March 20.

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While admitting the petition, the JSC noted Justice Ojwang’s refusal to attend a hearing where he would have been accorded an opportunity to defend himself.

The complainants singled out Justice Ojwang’s involvement in a miscellaneous application 49 of 2014 between the Awendo Town Council and the petitioners “despite being conflicted and being closely associated with the County Government of Migori and the Governor Okoth Obado.”

“The full Commission deliberated on the same (committee report) at great length and found that the petition had disclosed sufficient ground to warrant a recommendation to the President to set up a tribunal for the removal of the Justice Prof Jackton B. Ojwang and accordingly adopted it.”

Under Article 168 of the Constitution, judges of superior courts (Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, and High Court) can be removed from office on grounds of mental or physical incapacity, breach of prescribed code of conduct, bankruptcy, incompetence, and gross misconduct.

Judges suspended under Article 168 (5) are entitled to half the remuneration benefits payable to them pending determination of their fate by tribunal.

“Despite Article 160 (4), the remuneration and benefits payable to a judge who is suspended from office under clause (5) shall be adjusted to one half until such time as the judge is removed from, or reinstated in, office,” Article 168 (6) provides.
Meanwhile nine of 17 petitions filed against Court of Appeal and High Court judges were admitted following deliberations JSC.

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