, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9 – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has dismissed media reports that it had failed to reach a consensus over whether it should recommend the formation of a tribunal to probe the conduct of Supreme Court judge Njoki Ndung’u.
Chief Justice David Maraga, who chairs the commission, told a news conference on Thursday a petition filed by lawyer Apollo Mboya had been withdrawn and hence the commission could not proceed with the matter.
“The petition by Apollo Mboya against the Hon Justice J.B. Ojwang and the Hon Lady Justice Njoki Ndungu on allegations of misconduct of those judges arising from their pronouncements in the Nick Salat case was withdrawn by the petitioner,” he said.
Maraga, who was flanked by four JSC commissioners, termed media reports about its Wednesday sitting as misleading since Lady Justice Ndung’u’s matter was not extensively discussed as reported.
“What we’re seeing in the media today about Justice Ndung’u is surprising; it is as if the commission was deliberating about her case the entire day on Wednesday. If anything, it is the petition on which we took the least time because it was withdrawn,” the CJ remarked.
Also withdrawn was a petition against Justice David Majanja of the High Court over the manner in which he handled Nairobi ELC Case No 1018/2012, Lennah Wanjiku Mbiyu and Another Vs Eddah Wanjiru Mbiyu and three others.
A local daily had carried a story indicating that there were emerging cracks within the JSC as outside forces allegedly sought to influence the commission’s decision on the petition against Lady Justice Ndung’u.
The JSC allowed three petitions against Justices Njagi Marete, Mati Muya, Lucy Waithera, invoking Article 168 (1) of the Constitution requiring President Uhuru Kenyatta to form tribunals to investigate the conduct of the judges.
Petitions against five other judges were dismissed with a petition against Justice Farah Amin being heard by a JSC committee in part.
The petition against Justice Richard Mwongo has since been concluded awaiting determination by the JSC.
Ten other petitions against supreme court judges have been earmarked for hearing between June 10 and 15 before two JSC committees.
JSC said it will fix dates for oral submissions with regard to four petitions filed against Supreme Court judges.
Maraga said he and three of his colleagues had submitted written responses with regards to petitions seeking their removal from office.
“With regard to the petition by Yusuf Ibrahim Dimbil against the Chief Justice, the Commission confirms that the Hon Chief Justice has filed a response to the same,” JSC noted.
“With regard to the two petitions pending against four Supreme Court Judges arising from the Wajir Gubernatorial petition, the Commission confirms that the four judges have also filed their responses,” Maraga said adding that two judges had sought to be furnished with further particulars.
Maraga, Justices Mohammed Ibrahim, Jackton Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala, and Njoki Ndung’u were served with the petitions filed by Yussuf Dimbil, and Mohammed Mahamud Sheikh on March 20.
JSC gave them fourteen days at the time to respond.
The commission recommended the suspension of Justice Ojwang’ under Article 168 (5) of the Constitution.
President Kenyatta formed a tribunal to probe Justice Ojwang’s conduct on April 2. The tribunal chaired by Justice Alnashir Visram is however yet to commence its sittings.
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.
Article 168 (5) mandates the President to, upon receiving a petition from JSC , appoint a six-member tribunal comprising of among others an advocate and two persons with experience in public affairs.
Judges suspended under Article 168 (5) are entitled to half the remuneration benefits payable to them pending determination of their fate by tribunal.