Embattled Bomet resident judge Martin Mati Muya did not go to work a day after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) recommended a tribunal to investigate him and two of his colleagues.
Judges Muya, David Njagi Marete and Lucy Waithaka will be probed over alleged gross misconduct, incompetence and abuse of office.
Interestingly, all the four petitions against them relate to cases in Bomet and Kericho counties. Justices Marete and Waithaka have since been transferred from the county.
The fourth petition - against Supreme Court Judges Jackton Ojwang and Njoki – has been withdrawn.
It related to allegations of misconduct on their pronouncements in a case involving Kanu Secretary-General and former Bomet East Member of Parliament Nick Salat.
Justice Muya was going about his daily duties on Thursday afternoon when Chief Justice David Maraga and other JSC members announced their recommendation for the formation of a tribunal.
When he did not turn up at his duty station on Friday, it was said that he had travelled to Nairobi.
“The judge is not in today. Perhaps you can check on Monday as that is the day he is expected to be on duty,” said a judiciary officer who did not want to be named for lack of authority to speak to the media.
Judge Muya found himself on the wrong side of the law 13 days after hosting CJ Maraga on an official tour of Bomet.
It was Justice Muya and Senior Principal Magistrate Pamela Akinyi who took the CJ to places including the Bomet High Court.
Throughout the visit, that also saw the CJ meet the Court Users Association and pay Governor Joyce Laboso a courtesy call, there was sign that trouble was brewing for the soft spoken Justice Muya.
During the meeting with Governor Laboso, issues relating to corruption, selective dispensation of justice and lenient sentences against convicts especially in cases of rape, defilement and other kinds of gender-based violence were raised against a magistrate in Sotik.
Mr Kipngetich Korir, the South Rift Law Society of Kenya chairman, urged the JSC to remedy the situation by sending another judge to Bomet.
“Unfortunately, the development is a setback in the delivery of justice as cases which were at various stages at the High Court would now be in limbo,” said Mr Korir, a former Speaker of the Bomet County Assembly and advocate based in Bomet town.
Mr Muya was removed from office in 2003, in a judiciary purge which affected 83 magistrates.
After he was reinstated later, he went on to apply for the position of a judge, which he secured.
He was posted from Mombasa to Bomet in 2015, becoming the first resident judge in the county, a move that saved many residents the trouble of travelling to travel to Nakuru, Kericho and Kisumu.
It remains to be seen whether Mr Muya will survive the tribunal’s investigation.
The complaint against him was filed by NIC Bank, a defendant in a matter before the High Court in Bomet, one Alfred Kipkorir Mutai and Kipsigis Stores.
“In that case (HCC NO 4 of 2016), the judge, after numerous adjournments, granted an injunction and reserved the reasons thereof for a period of five months,” states a statement released by the JSC.
“This was in total disregard of pleas by NIC Bank that vehicles that had been given to it as security were being sold and were eventually sold, thus occasioning loss to the bank.”