Activists move to court over Tunoi Tribunal

Justice Tunoi has refuted the bribery allegations levelled against him. [Photo/Courtesy]

Two Kenyan activists have moved to the High Court to stop operations of the tribunal appointed to investigate the conduct of Justice Philip Tunoi.

Okiya Omtata and Nyakina Gisebe allege that the existence of Sharad Rao in the tribunal is a violation of the constitution on the basis that Rao is older than the cut-off age for appointing judges, and that by his accepting the appointment knowing that he is not qualified violates Kenyan law.

The constitution requires the chairperson of a tribunal appointed to probe the conduct of a judge to be a present or past member of the bench or at least qualify to be appointed as a judge.

The activists contest that Rao is not a judge and has never been a judge and hence cannot seat in the tribunal.

A tribunal appointed to investigate the conduct of suspended Supreme Court Judge Philip Tunoi was Wednesday sworn into office by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, even as it emerged that its work could fail to take off over a row surrounding the age of its chairman Sharad Rao.

A section of lawyers predicted that a suit challenging the legality of the 7-member tribunal would be filed at the High Court, in what they claim was a deliberate move by the executive to derail the Tunoi probe, which some fear could raise serious integrity issues on his colleagues in the Supreme Court.

The swearing in of Sharad Rao and his team was preceded by confusion over who would chair the tribunal, after an administrative secretary in the Office of the President Kennedy Kihara said retired Judge Jonathan Havelock, had been picked to chair the team, after issues were raised on Rao’s age.

Havelock did not attend the swearing in ceremony but is expected to be sworn in Thursday.

The tribunal was formed to determine whether Justice Tunoi should continue to hold office following claims by journalist Geoffrey Kiplagat that he took a bribe of 200 million shillings from Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero in an election petition case filed by Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu.

In late February, President Uhuru Kenyatta suspended Tunoi and formed the 7-member tribunal to further probe him.


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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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