Former LSK chair warns over looming constitutional crisis

Okong'o Omogeni
Okong'o Omogeni

Former Law Society of Kenya Chair Okong’o Omogeni has warned that the country could be staring at a constitutional crisis over the standoff between State House and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on the formation of a tribunal to probe bribery allegations against Justice Philip Tunoi.

Omogeni stated that Tunoi will not be eligible to sit on the bench again after the end of 14 days since the JSC submitted it’s report to President Uhuru Kenyatta recommending the formation of a tribunal to investigate the bribery allegations facing him.

President Kenyatta rejected JSC’s recommendations to form a tribunal to probe Tunoi saying the commission did not submit all supporting documents to necessitate the formation of a tribunal in the bribery case facing the senior judge.

JSC has, however, since asserted that it sent all necessary documents to the President to set up a tribunal to probe Tunoi.

The commission further stated that it had not received any request for additional information and that it indeed gave all the necessary files as required by law.

JSC insists this is not the first petition of its nature it has handled insisting that it acted satisfactorily within what is provided by the constitution.

According to the law, once the presidency acknowledges receipt of the JSC petition, a 14 day countdown will begin.

Under Article 168 of the Constitution, read along with Sections 31 and 32 of the Judicial Service Act, the President shall, within fourteen days of receiving the petition from JSC, suspend the Judge from office and appoint a tribunal to probe the Judge.

The tribunal will consist of seven members.

The chairperson, and at least four other members, shall hold or have held office as Judges of a Superior Court, or have qualified as such, and shall not have been members of the JSC at any time within the immediately preceding three years.

The fifth member of the tribunal shall have been an advocate for a minimum of 15 years. The final two members shall be qualified practitioners with experience in public affairs.

The tribunal will inquire into the matter expeditiously and shall report on the facts and make binding recommendations to the President.

The President shall uphold the tribunal’s recommendations if the Judge aggrieved by the decision of the tribunal does not file his appeal with the Supreme Court within 10 days after the tribunal makes its recommendations; or, if an appeal is taken and the final order in the matter affirms the tribunal’s recommendations.

Justice Tunoi is accused of receiving 200 million shillings from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to deliver a favourable judgement in a petition by Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu against Kidero in August 2014.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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