CJ David Maraga asks for a tribunal hearing in the case of Justice Jackton Ojwang

Chief Justice David Maraga has written to President Uhuru Kenyatta, recommending the formation of a tribunal to determine whether Justice JacktonOjwang‘ will be expelled from the Supreme Court. 

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, the CJ stated that the concerns raised by the petition to remove Justice Ojwang’ were grave enough to warrant investigations by a tribunal. 

“Upon presentation of the report by the committee, the full commission deliberated on the same at great length and found that the petition had disclosed sufficient ground to warrant a recommendation to the president, to set up a tribunal for the removal of Hon Justice Prof Jackton B. Ojwang’ and accordingly adopted,” Maraga told journalists. 

Maraga also regretted that the judge had ignored summons by the Judicial Service Commission to defend himself in light of the allegations against him.

“Regrettably the judge, despite notice being served upon him, refused to attend the hearing,” the CJ noted. 

Justice Ojwang was accused of conspiring with Migori Governor Okoth Obado to build a road to the judge’s private residence in the outskirts of Migori town, in exchange for a favourable ruling in a case.

Article 168 of the constitution requires President Kenyatta to suspend the Judge from office. 

The Head of State will then be expected to appoint a tribunal consisting of a chairperson and three other members from among persons who hold or have held office as a judge of a superior court, or who are qualified to be appointed as such but who, in either case, have not been members of the Judicial Service Commission at any time within the immediately preceding three years. 

The tribunal will also have one advocate with 15 years experience and two other persons with experience in public affairs.

A judge who is aggrieved by a decision of the tribunal may appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court, within 10 days after the tribunal makes its recommendations.

Upon the lapse of the 10 days, the recommendations of the tribunal to expel or reinstate the judge will be adopted. 

Tribunal Hearing

Supreme Court Judge Jackton Ojwang is walking an a tight rope after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) resolved to ask President Uhuru Kenyatta to form a tribunal to investigate his conduct. 

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Speaking at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Chief Justice David Maraga said that Ojwang’ refused to appear before the commission after he was linked to bribery claims. 

Close associates of Governor Okoth Obado claimed Ojwang had been bribed to rule in favour of the county boss in a case involving the Sony Sugar belt. 

He has also been faulted for taking bribes and delivering rulings against the constitution of this nation. 

Maraga said that he regrets the decision of the Judge to refused to appear before the commission. Nelson Oduol and eight other residents of Migori County had filed a complaint against the judge.

“We have written a recommendation to the President to set up a tribunal for the removal of Justice Ojwang and accordingly adopted,” said Maraga in part.

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Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi is among the influential personalities who have questioned the conduct of the judge. He said that Judge Ojwang can run but he cannot manage to hide from the long arm of the government.

Three judges who suffered similar fate before him

Supreme Court Judge Jackton Ojwang’ will be the fourth judge under the new constitution who could be removed over gross misconduct, reports the Standard.

On Wednesday, Judicial Service Commission under the stewardship of Chief Justice David Maraga, recommended removal of the career judge and law professor after being found culpable of misconduct. 

In their statement, the JSC accused the judge of failing to defend himself over bribery allegations filed by Migori residents, accusing him of benefiting from favours from Governor Okoth Obado. President Uhuru Kenyatta has 14 days to form a tribunal that will seal his fate.

“Regrettably, the Hon Judge, despite notice being served upon him refused to attend the hearing. Upon presentation of the report by the Committee, the full Commission deliberated on the same at great length and found that the petition had disclosed sufficient ground to warrant a recommendation to the President to set up a Tribunal for the removal of the Hon Justice Prof Jackton B. Ojwang and accordingly adopted it. The CJ will in the course of the day send the petition to the President,” reads the statement by the Commission.

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But Ojwang’ will be the fourth to face the tribunal in as many years. Former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Barasa, the first woman to hold such a position, was successfully tried by the tribunal and subsequently discharged from her duties.

Supreme Court Judge Philip Tunoi, was also subjected to a similar tribunal in 2015 for allegedly receiving Sh200 million from former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero. He however resigned before he could face the tribunal formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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High Court Judge James Mutava has probably had the longest duel with JSC. Accused of conspiring to acquitt Goldernberg architect Kamlesh Puttini, Mutava was found guilty by both JSC and the tribal. His fate was recently sealed by the Supreme Court after an unsuccessful appeal.

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