Lawyer arrested in Mandera over stolen petition file

Wednesday November 22 2017

Election petition

Petition files. A lawyer has been arrested at the Mandera Airstrip on suspicion of stealing parts of an election petition. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MANASE OTSIALO
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A Lawyer is being held at the Mandera Police Station after he was arrested on suspicion of stealing a case file.

The lawyer (name withheld) was arrested Wednesday morning at the Mandera Airstrip as he prepared to board a plane to Nairobi.

According to Mandera Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Areri, parts of an election petition were reported missing by a court clerk.

“We had proceedings on Tuesday and I had to deliver a ruling on whether the petition should be heard or quashed only for parts of the file to go missing hours later,” said Mr Areri.

SUSPECTS

Mr Areri said there were only five people in court when the petition was being heard and that the only suspects were the three advocates who were present.

“The clerk did not have the document neither was it in my cabinet, forcing us to [go after] the advocates who were headed to the airstrip in the morning,” he said.

The court clerk was able to identify the three advocates at the airstrip and Mr Areri said the missing document was found on one of them.

“These documents were found inside the advocate’s bag at the airstrip,” he said.

Mr Areri said he handed over the file to the registry for typing and forwarding of the proceedings to the Judiciary’s head office in Nairobi.

MISSING PARTS

He said the missing part of the petition could have crippled the whole process.

“One of the respondents in the petition had applied for the petition to be struck out and I was to prepare a ruling on that only for parts of the file to disappear,” said Mr Areri.

The magistrate said the petitioner had not responded to the application and that could have led to the mischievous behaviour of the advocate who had applied for adjournment but was denied.

RULING

“I could not be able to write a ruling without the part that was missing which is the main body of the petition,” he said.

Mr Areri could not explain how the advocate gained access to the petition striking out the main component.

“The police are working on knowing how the advocate got hold of the part that was found in his bag at the airstrip,” he said.

The advocate, according to Mr Areri, had shown signs of unprofessionalism early in the day.

“He had interfered with proceedings of an early morning petition which he was not party to and I had been forced to kick him out,” said Mr Areri.

Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia confirmed the arrest, adding that investigations were underway.

“We have an advocate in police custody being investigated for a crime we are yet to confirm,” he said.