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LSK calls for probe on Sonko’s dossier on Judiciary

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has urged law enforcement agencies to act swiftly and investigate an exposé doing rounds on social media that alleges several judicial officers may have engaged in conduct influencing the decision of the Court.

The exposé by former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (pictured above) specifically highlights two judges of the High Court and some advocates as having engaged in malpractice while in office.

“We are aware that several complaints have been filed before the Judicial Service Commission touching on the said allegations. We, therefore, call for the speedy determination touching on the said allegations,” LSK said in a statement.

Despite the judicial officers having the right to defend themselves since the exposé is just an allegation, for now, LSK reckons investigations need to be carried out quickly before the Judiciary loses face in the eyes of the public.

“In the exposé, a staggering amount of candidly recorded video material from within the chambers of a serving judge of the Kenyan Judiciary, capturing, in his own words, accounts of transactions that are utterly inimical to the status and conduct of a judicial officer. This requires urgent investigation to be undertaken, before public confidence in the judiciary is completely eroded,” LSK said in a statement.

LSK similarly reiterated that judicial officers are expected to adhere to the constitutional values and principles of public service as stipulated in the constitution.

In the dossier, the former governor comes out guns blazing and throwing many into panic following his explosive expose on the rot in the judiciary.

Sonko in his teaser of the expose that he has promised will be running in 5 series accuses the judiciary of being corrupted saying his ouster was a spirited effort and a grand conspiracy drawn by operatives and corrupted judiciary officials to throw him out of office.

“As a new page of impunity turns today in the history of Nairobi, this is just a trailer of a five-part series exposing the rot in the Kenyan Judiciary to be aired in various media local and international platforms,” Sonko wrote of his expose.

“The series is a mixture of corrupt and fraudulent land dealings, my impeachment, sex for justice escapades and succession cases where widows, widowers, orphans and investors have been denied justice, as evident by the actions of Honourable Justice Juma Saidi Chitembwe and some of his fellow learned judges who have conspired to deny me justice by facilitating the hurried swearing in of the incoming Governor.”

Sonko had raised issues with Justice Chitembe’s ruling that annulled his governorship but the file has been expunged according to the former governor, “Strangely, after the gazettement of her swearing-in, the hearing date of my Civil Appeal No. E425 and E473 of 2021 scheduled for Monday, 22nd November, 2021 at the Court of Appeal have been removed off the Court of Appeal Cause List for unknown reasons.”

This comes at a time when the former Nairobi Governor suffered yet another blow after the appellate court in Nairobi dismissed his appeal of the High Court decision okaying his removal from office in December 2020.

The decision by Justices Wanjiru Karanja, Jamila Mohammed and Jessie Lessit cleared the way for Anne Kananu’s ascension to the governorship, with the three judges saying nothing could stop the assumption to an office which is subject to litigation noting that in cases where a county official wins an impeachment petition, payment of damages would suffice.

“In this, that we agree with this Court in Stephen Mring’a Masomo v County Government, Taita Taveta & 2 others [2016] KLR where the Court found, in the context of an application of a county official to his position pending the hearing of his appeal, that an award of damages would adequately recompense him should he be successful,” the judges explained.

Sonko had challenged the High Court decision by Justices Said Chitembwe, Wilfrida Okwany and Weldon Korir on June 24 to uphold the decision by both the Nairobi County Assembly and Senate to impeach him, on grounds that his removal from office fully complied with the constitutional and statutory requirements.

Sonko had launched the Constitutional Petition challenging the impeachment process in Constitutional Petition No. E425 of 2020 together with another petition No. E014 of 2021 by lawyer Okiya Omtatah before the two petitions were consolidated and heard together.

He had also sought to prevent former Deputy Governor Anne Kananu from ascending to office.

In his submissions to the appellate court, Sonko termed the High Court ruling as erroneous arguing that it failed to properly interpret the Constitution in relation to the correct processes of impeachment  by the County Assembly and Senate.

He further accused the High Court of being openly biased against him adding that it also failed to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 165(6) of the of the Constitution in failing to consider the question of lawful participation of members of the County Assembly in the process of impeachment.

In his submissions, Sonko joined by Omtatah have made various allegations touching on the conduct of the 1st – 6th respondents and the various roles that they played during the impeachment process.

The two petitioners held that the High Court reached an erroneous conclusion as it did not properly interpret the Constitution in relation to the correct processes of impeachment conducted by the County Assembly and Senate

The former governor further claimed that those behind his impeachment failed to abide by the doctrine of stare decisis, which requires determination of legal matters by precedent, by failing to properly address the constitutional violations particularized in the petition.

The process to kick Sonko from office commenced on November 26, 2020 when a notice of motion for his removal was lodged with the Clerk of the Nairobi City County Assembly by a Embakasi ward representative Michael Ogada.

The clerk then invited the former governor to appear before the Committee of the Nairobi County Assembly on December 3, 2020 where motion for his impeachment was filed.

Subsequently, on the same date, the assembly passed a resolution under Article 181 of the Constitution as read with Section 33 of the County Governments Act before the Senate voted to remove Sonko from office on December 17, 2020.

Following his impeachment, the Nairobi County Speaker was sworn in as Acting Governor before Ann Kananu was vetted and sworn in as Deputy Governor.

Chitembwe was one of the two judges arrested in July after police said they got a tip-off they had intended to receive a bribe.

He later told the court in September that being found with dollars is not unusual as his family operates a foreign currency account.

Chitembwe wondered why the police suspected him of fraud when they found him in possession of $7,000 in his pocket when he was arrested alongside Justice Aggrey Muchelule in July.

But Chitembwe, in an affidavit filed at the High Court through the law firm of Otieno Okeyo, denied any involvement in fraud, saying him being found with dollars should not be suspect.

Further he explained that the dollars in question were in his pocket and he voluntarily surrendered them to the police although he intended to use the cash to pay for his son’s school fees.

According to the affidavit, after the search in his chambers on July 22, he removed $7,000 from his pockets “for my son’s school fees at Edith Cowan University, Perth Australia”, which he handed to the police.

Sonko leaked a video recording of meetings with Honourable Justice Juma Saidi Chitembwe held at his residence in House No. 31, Mountain View Estate, Waiyaki Way on fraudulent land dealings and my impeachment proceedings where he was a presiding judge and confessed that him and his two colleagues denied me justice since there was lack of public participation at the Senate and lack of quorum at the Nairobi City County Assembly.

He also leaked part of the videos and recordings of Amana Saidi Jirani confessing that he is the brother and bona fide proxy/nominee to the Judge.

Before they broke ranks, Cecil Miller and George Kithi were amongst the defense lawyers for Sonko in the in the Sh357 million graft case that would later contribute to his impeachment in county assembly and consequently the Senate.

The governor faced 19 charges in two separate files, with the prosecution claiming that he conspired with business people and senior county government officials to embezzle more than Sh300 million from the county coffers.

The charges against him ranged from conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption, conflict of interest to money laundering and acquisition of proceeds of crime.

“Between May 24, 2018 and March 28, 2019 in Nairobi City County, being the governor, you jointly conspired with the co-accused to commit an offence of corruption namely embezzlement of public funds in the sum of Sh357,390,229 from Nairobi City County government,” read the charge sheet.

In the second file, the governor alongside others were accused of embezzling Sh24.1 million through a contract for an electronic revenue collection and payment solutions.

In February, Sonko fired his lead counsels in the fraud case under unclear circumstances then.

However, according the the leaked phone conversations by Sonko, Miller and Kithii allegedly conspired with state agents to throw him out of office. In what is unprecedented clash of interest if true, Miller crossed the fence and having been his lawyer and with his secrets to work against him by corporating with statehouse agents who wanted him out.

According to the leaked clip, Miller allegedly conspired with Assistant State House Controller George Kariuki to finish him.

In a leaked recorded audio of telephone conversation between Amana Saidi Jirani, nominee and brother to Honourable Justice Juma Saidi Chitembwe and Lawyer Cecil Miller, Sonko alleges that Miller was instrumental in influencing the judgement upholding my unprocedural removal from office.

Amana is caught on tape recorded in Sonko’s office narrating to the governor how Miller allegedly orchestrated everything.

In the damning video, Amana claims that Miller together with Abdi Guyo and Kariuki had visited Justice Chitembe’s chambers in bid to influence the case, the judge in a different clip also affirms the claims.

Amana further claims that Miller and Kithii were allegedly threatened by Kariuki that they’d face charges and claimed that the money they had received in their accounts from the county were fraudulently acquired.

Amana narrates to Sonko that Miller having been scared by Kariuki’s threats of jailing them over alleged fraud allegedly told him to give the statehouse operative assurances that the case is intact and that as brother to Justice Chitembe, everything was in course and he would talk to him.

He further claims the NMS Boss General Badi was also present in the meeting that took place at Miller’s office in Upper Hill.

Amana also recorded a phone conversation with Miller allegedly. In the clip, Amana said that Sonko had made peace with Uhuru and that the case would deteriorate. The alleged Miller in the recorded call refuted the claims. Being uneasy with using a direct call, the conversation switches to Signal app for secrecy in which the alleged Miller refers to State House as ‘Nyumba Kubwa’ to evade capture, that the state was still on top and there’s no reconciliation that has taken place between the president and Sonko. In the clip Miller allegedly claims that he had talked to Justice Chitembe on the judgment. He also claims that Guyo and George have been in contact. n another conversation leaked by Sonko painting Miller as a corrupt lawyer, the former governor alleges that a widow was forced to pay Sh53M in a fake taxation case. He says Miller didn’t represent the widow despite the money being deposited.

The phone is allegedly between Miller and Justice Chitembwe’s brother cum proxy and broker, Miller had allegedly wanted Amana to sweet talk his brother and Justice Muchelule to release the funds. In the clip, Miller allegedly agreed to part with Sh7M as a bribe to the judge to facilitate quick release. Muchelule fast tracked the case but allegedly asked for Sh2M cash in advance through Chitembwe.

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