Judiciary’s Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei was on Monday sent on compulsory leave and investigations ordered into malpractice allegations against her.
The decision was reached at a meeting of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) chaired by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and attended by nine members, which upheld an earlier resolution by a section of the JSC in Mombasa on Saturday.
“Five of the nine commissioners voted in favour of asking the Chief Registrar to take compulsory leave during the 15 days when the investigations will be in process. Four commissioners voted against this decision,” announced Dr Mutunga at the Supreme Court after a marathon session.
The Chief Justice said two JSC committees — Finance and Administration and Human Resource Management — would investigate the allegations of malpractices touching on procurement, employment, administration, finance and corporate governance of the Judiciary.
Mr Justice Isaac Lenaola and lawyer Ahmednassir will lead the investigations.
Deputy Chief Registrar Kaikai Kissinger, will temporarily take charge of the Judiciary.
But a few minutes after the JSC decision was announced, Mrs Shollei, addressing the Press, blamed the attacks on a cartel she claimed was resisting reforms she was implementing in the Judiciary.
She termed the decision to suspend her as irregular.
“There is no statutory or regulatory provision for sending the Chief Registrar on compulsory leave. I understand that the decision was not unanimous (5-4). Some commissioners including the Attorney General and Justice Isaac Lenaola were absent,” she stated.
She went on: “I can guess those commissioners who supported the resolution and their reasons. But that is for another day.”
Mrs Shollei said the reasons for which she was being fought had been the subject of media speculation and insisted her reputation was above reproach.
“There is no financial impropriety or irregularities in the procurement processes at the Judiciary. In fact since I took office I can tell Kenyans that the Judiciary is the only government institution that has not had an appeal against any of its procurement decisions at the Public Procurement Appeals Tribunal,” she said.
She further hinted that she may contest the decision to send her on leave: “Whereas the JSC has made its decision, I reserve the right to contest the process and procedure used. I am aware that this might be construed that I have something to hide. I do not.”
Mrs Shollei called on other relevant government authorities, including Parliament, to carry out their own audit into the matter.
The inquiry has been prompted by questions being raised over among other things, the procurement of an office space leased at Elgon Court to house some of the judicial staff costing over Sh700 million, her failure to audit the renovation of the Milimani Law Courts and purchase of several luxury cars for judges.
The Milimani courts project was implemented by the previous Judiciary administration.
Supreme Court judges have been asked to move to the new facility by end of August but some have opposed the decision, saying the new building was not conducive for their work.
The matter prompted the Law Society of Kenya to write to the JSC registrar.
“Yes we are aware of the concerns raised by some judges in regard to the new office facility and we wrote to Mrs Shollei regarding this,” said LSK chairman Erick Mutua.
Meanwhile, drama unfolded at the JSC meeting on Monday after some of members disowned an earlier decision in Mombasa to suspend Mrs Shollei for 30 days.
The Nation obtained minutes of the meeting held at the Serena Beach Hotel and attended by eight commission members chaired by JSC vice-chairperson Christine Mango.
The August 17 retreat was also attended by Justices Lenaola, Smokin Wanjala, Mohammed Warsame, Emily Ominde, Florence Mwangangi, Mr Ahmednassir Abdulahi and the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia.
“That the two committees will after due process hand over a report on the investigations to the Judicial Service Commission within thirty (30) days,” read part of the resolution contained in a confidential document signed by Prof Mango.