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Election for key post in Judiciary marred by corruption, says CJ Willy Mutunga

Friday January 29 2016

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga with members of the

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga with members of the Judicial Service Commission at the Supreme Court in Nairobi on January 27, 2016. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PAULINE KAIRU
By PAULINE KAIRU
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Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on Thursday said that the election of the judges’ and magistrates’ representatives to the JSC was riddled with corruption.

The CJ, who was answering a question regarding the progress of the case against Supreme Court Judge Phillip Tunoi, said that though there was a committee looking into the allegations against the judge, he was further saddened after evidence emerged that there was corruption in the judicial elections held two months ago.

“It causes me a lot of pain that an election involving judges and magistrates would involve the magnitude of corruption that it has emerged happened,” he said Thursday evening during the launch of the Wajibu Wetu Programme, a forum aimed at strengthening democracy and public participation.

Dr Mutunga, who is also the president of the Supreme Court, said it was saddening that many young people were joining the legal profession merely because they wanted to become rich, not because they are passionate about social justice.

“Can you imagine a judge bribing another judge so that they can vote for them?” he asked.

Concerning Justice Tunoi’s matter, he said: “We have handed over the report to that committee and that committee will look at the allegations and respond to them.”

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Justice Tunoi is accused of accepting a $2 million (Sh200 million) bribe to rule in favour of Dr Evans Kidero, whose election as Nairobi governor was challenged in 2014.

His challenger, Mr Ferdinand Waititu, this week said the ruling ought to be reviewed.

The judge has said the allegations are meant to influence succession in the Judiciary and the selection of judges who will hear the presidential election petition — should there be one — after next year’s election.

REGIONAL LOYALTIES

On corruption, Dr Mutunga said: “It is very, very painful, but we’ve got to realise that it is not just happening in the Judiciary, but the whole country and the people of this country must stand up against corruption and stop using their ethnic, religious or regional loyalties to say that they cannot deal with a particular accused person.”

Dr Mutunga is scheduled to retire in the next five months, and last night he indicated that he would go back to supporting activism.

“I will also write and talk about transformation in the Judiciary,” he said.

His deputy, Ms Kalpana Rawal, attained 70 years earlier this month but has challenged the decision to retire her, arguing that she was appointed under the old Constitution, which allowed judges to retire at the age of 74.

The ruling in her case will be issued today and is likely to have far-reaching implications.

Additional reporting by Jacqueline Kubania