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Economy

Top judges have 14 days to file defence in Wajir poll case

Chief Justice David Maraga
Chief Justice David Maraga at the swearing-in of Judicial Service Commission members last November. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG 

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Wednesday started investigating 12 judges at the centre of misconduct and conflict of interest allegations.

The 12 include two judges of the Supreme Court.

The rest are judges of the High Court and the Employment and Labour Relations court. The JSC did not reveal their names.

To speed up the hearing, the JSC was split into two committees, with each handling six complaints.

The move comes as the commission directed four Supreme Court judges, who are facing accusations of misconduct over the Wajir Gubernatorial election petition, to file their responses in 14 days.

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The four are Justices Mohammed Ibrahim, Jackton Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndung’u. The commission also directed that the petition be served on the judges.

The four Judges, in a majority decision, allowed a second appeal by Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi Mahamud, faulting the High Court and the Court of Appeal for entertaining the case on whether the governor holds a degree or not.

They said the matter was a pre-election dispute and the complainants never raised the issue until they lost the gubernatorial election.

They also ruled that where a person knew or ought to have known of the facts forming the basis of a pre-election dispute, and chooses through any action or omission, not to present the same for resolution to the IEBC or the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT), such a dispute shall not be a ground in a petition in an election court.

Mr Mahamud’s election had been nullified for alleged lack of a degree certificate but he maintained that he holds a first degree and a Master’s from Kampala University.

Absent from work

Sources say the complaints on the judges range from being too temperamental, lazy and being absent from work. They are also accused of conflict of interest, unexplained delayed judgments and other forms of misconduct.

One of the judges is accused of handling a matter which he previously handled when he was an advocate, raising conflict of interest questions.

The petition seeking the removal of the four judges was filed by Jared Ongeri. He accused the judicial officers of violation of the Constitution, gross misconduct, breach of the Judicial Code of Conduct and Ethics and Oath of Office.

A statement by the JSC said it received a total of 69 complaints against judges. The complaints were considered and 13 of them were admitted to hearing.

“The hearings commence today (Wednesday), while 18 other petitions are at an advanced stage of consideration. The Commission found no merit with the rest of the petitions,” the statement said.

The commission also heard and determined nine cases filed against magistrates. Five of them were found in breach and dismissed.

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