Suspended judge Chitembwe moves to Supreme Court to challenge his ouster recommendation

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 15 Feb, 2023 10:20 | 3 mins read
Justice Said Chitembwe. PHOTO/COURTESY
Justice Said Chitembwe. PHOTO/Courtesy

Suspended High Court Judge Said Juma Chitembwe has moved to the Supreme Court to challenge recommendations for his removal from office over gross misconduct.

In a notice of appeal filed at the apex court, Chitembwe wants the decision of a 12-member tribunal set aside to allow him to resume duty.

Through P.W Wena & Company Advocates, Justice Chitembwe says he is dissatisfied with the findings of the entire decision of the Justice Mumbi Ngugi-led tribunal dated February 7, 2023.

The judge is expected to file the main appeal, giving detailed reasons as to why he seeking to have the recommendations of the tribunal quashed.

The tribunal unanimously recommended to President William Ruto to remove justice Chitembwe from the Judiciary after being found guilty of four out of six misconduct allegations levelled against him by his employer the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

He was found guilty of acquiring a proprietary interest in a land parcel in Kindono, Kwale county, which was subject of a succession case pending before him.

Conflict of interest

Chitembwe is said to have breached the Judicial Service Code of conduct for judges.

“There is sufficient evidence to prove that the judge acquired an interest over land parcel No.Kwale/Galu Kinondo/779 through his relative and proxy Mr Amana Saidi Jirani,” the tribunal said in its findings.

In the second charge, he was found guilty of discussing the withdrawal of a case at the Court of Appeal in Malindi at his residential home in Mountain View, Waiyaki Way Nairobi with Jane Mutulu Kyengo, Mike Sonko, Jimmy Askar, Amana Saidi Jirani among others. The case was between Pacific Frontiers Seas Limited and Ms Kyengo.

During the meeting, they discussed the sale of the land in Kinondo Kwale for his personal benefit and the withdrawal of an appeal challenging his verdict on the property. The appeal had been filed against his own judgment.

“The judge grossly misconducted himself by advising the parties on the procedure to be followed to have an appeal which was filed against his own judgment withdrawn and promising to discuss the matter with other judges and judicial officers who were handling the said appeal,” the tribunal said.

Thirdly, the judge grossly misconducted himself by presiding over a bench in the impeachment case whilst being known and closely associated with Sonko, one of the petitioners in the matter.

Fourthly, Justice Chitembwe held a meeting with Sonko during which he offered legal advice on the viability of an appeal and the proposed grounds of appeal against the judgment that upheld his impeachment.

Genesis of his tribulations are videos leaked by former Sonko in 2021, after losing a bid to recapture the governor's seat.

The videos depicted the judge in a scheme to compromise an active court case involving property succession in Kwale county.

The misconduct charges stemmed from his participation in a television interview on November 18, 2021, where he admitted that the former governor was known to him and that was his relative.

Sonko was one of the parties in a case heard and determined by a three-judge bench in relation to his impeachment as Nairobi governor. Justice Chitembwe was the presiding judge in the bench.

“The judge grossly misconducted himself by presiding over a bench whilst being known and closely associated with Mr Sonko, one of the petitioners,” the tribunal added.

The judge failed to disclose to the Chief Justice and his colleagues on the bench and the parties that he was personally known to Sonko.

The recommendation for Justice Chitembwe’s removal came after JSC asked former President Uhuru Kenyatta to form a tribunal to probe the judge’s conduct in line with the Constitution.