Case number mix-up in Mwilu case

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu.
Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Criminal proceedings against the Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu was Wednesday temporarily halted amid a mystery of how a High Court order stopping the proceedings was based on a wrong case number

But even after her lawyers obtained orders stopping the prosecution, chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi only deferred the matter to Friday, after it emerged that they had used the wrong case number to argue the case.

Moments after Mr Mugambi was furnished with a High Court order suspending the criminal trial, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Dorcas Oduor shot up and pointed out a nearly fatal error in the document—the case number was wrong. “Your honour, I have an objection. The order number five is against criminal case number 292 of 2018. Your Honour, the case before the court is 38 of 2018,” Ms Oduor said.

Mr Mugambi adjourned the matter to Friday. “Court orders are specific and should never leave room for interpretation. Consequently I agree with the prosecution. These proceedings have not been stayed. As far as I’m concerned, this order will not apply to this case,” Mr Mugambi ruled.

Justice Mwilu’s lawyers and Ms Oduor however agreed to have the DCJ freed as her legal team returns to High Court judge Chacha Mwita for a correction of the case number mix up. One of the orders granted read: “An interim conservatory order be and is hereby issued staying proceedings against the petitioner in criminal case 292 of 2018 pending before the Chief Magistrate’s court at Nairobi until October 9, 2018 when the court will give further directions on the hearing of the petition.”

The case also has an identity file number 38 of 2018.

Ms Mwilu was charged on Tuesday evening, hours after being arrested, and released on a personal bond of Sh5 million.

She faced 13 charges relating to illegal recovery of a loan security at Imperial Bank, failure to pay taxes and abuse of office.

Her lawyers led by Mr Okong’o Omogeni and Siaya Senator James Orengo argued that the case was wrongly placed before the anti-corruption court, yet it was a commercial dispute.

Justice Mwilu’s other lawyers are Mr Nelson Havi and former vice- president Kalonzo Musyoka who returned to court as an advocate after decades.