Chief Justice David Maraga has been petitioned to transfer judicial officers serving at Sotik law courts in Bomet County over alleged corruption.
Mr Benard Kipruto Ngeno of the Sotik sub-county transparency and justice lobby group states in a petition to Mr Maraga who is the President of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that corruption was a major impediment to the delivery of justice at the law courts.
“The corruption menace involves the court, prosecution, lawyers and probation officers. Some of the staff openly solicit for bribes so they can influence outcome of court cases,” says Mr Ngeno.
He claims that the cartel has been operating at the court for the last three years and pleas by litigants on the matter to both the Criminal Investigations Department and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission have gone unheeded.
“We appeal to you (Maraga) to restore justice and fairness at Sotik law courts that has even forced some police officers in Sotik and Konoin sub counties to take their cases to be processed at the Bomet law courts where they feel the cases would not be influenced by money changing hands,” states Mr Ngeno.
The petition comes five months after Justice Maraga was informed by former Bomet Governor the late Joyce Laboso during a tour of the region that there was public outcry over the manner in which cases were being handled in Sotik law courts.
“It is the position of litigants and many stakeholders in Bomet County that corruption is thriving in Sotik law courts and the only remedy is to undertake a total overhaul by transferring all the judicial officers there,” said Dr Laboso when she hosted Mr Maraga on April 26, this year.
Dr Laboso said, “People have completely lost faith in the courts and the issue has kept recurring with the public saying they have had enough of it. Apart from lenient cases being handed and serious cases including rape and defilement, there are cases where suspects are given fines even when the law does not provide for it,”
Bomet County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said at the meeting that issues had been raised over the manner in which the Sotik law courts handled cases relating to insecurity and fight against illicit brews.
“It is a matter of grave concern that the court in question has been a major stumbling block in the fight by the administrative and security arms of the government against consumption and sale of illicit brews, third generation spirits, rapes, defilements and domestic violence,” said Mr Omoding.
Sotik Principal Magistrate Benard Omwanza said during a court users association meeting on Friday that the claims being made could not be substantiated by the petitioners.
“We have asked the people making the claims to bring tangible evidence, but they have not been able to do that,” said Mr Omwanza during the meeting.