JSC approves removal of Justice Chitembwe over gross misconduct

The Commission has written to President Uhuru Kenyatta for further action.

In Summary

• The Commission has written to President Uhuru Kenyatta for further action. 

• Leaks by former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko depict Justice Chitembwe as part of a scheme to compromise the course of justice in a land dispute.

Justice Said Juma Chitembwe during his interview for position of Supreme Court judge on May 3.
Justice Said Juma Chitembwe during his interview for position of Supreme Court judge on May 3.
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has approved the removal of Justice Said Chitembwe from office.

Through Chief Justice Martha Koome, the Commission has written to President Uhuru Kenyatta for further action. 

"Accordingly, the Commission resolved to send the Petition to His Excellency the President for his further action in accordance with article 168(4) of the Constitution," Koome said.

She also assured Kenyans of JSC's commitment to integrity and accountability in the Judiciary.

"The JSC considered the report of the panel on the petition imitated by the commission on its own motion and is satisfied that the petition discloses grounds for the removal of Chitembewe," the statement read.

In November 2021, Chief Justice Martha Koome said the JSC would meet to discuss a petition seeking the removal of Chitembwe from the office following viral leaks alleging misconduct and a scheme to compromise a case.

The leaks by former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko depict Justice Chitembwe as part of a scheme to compromise the course of justice in a land dispute.

“The Judicial Service Commission will meet to deliberate on the issue according to its constitution and statutory set procedures,” Koome said in a statement.

Chitembwe has denied involvement in corruption, insisting that the videos were manipulated to put forth a false narrative.

A section of lawyers through the Nairobi LSK branch had also called for the judge's removal from the bench.

Prior to that, two other individuals had filed petitions seeking his removal from office.

One of the petitioners in the case seeking removal of Justice Said Chitembwe over bribery allegations and abuse of office claimed that the judge tried to bribe him to withdraw the case.

In an affidavit, Stephen Owoko said he was approached by a man, Henry Shitanda, on November 27, 2021, who introduced himself as an agent of Justice Chitembwe and said he was sent by Justice Chitembwe  to withdraw the case that was before the Judicial Service Commission  – Petition  number 80 of 2021.

“Mr Shitanda further assured me that the Honourable Justice was ready to facilitate the withdrawal of the petition at a cost,” read the affidavit filed on January 18.

The removal of a judge can only be initiated by the JSC acting on its own motion or on the petition of any person to the commission.

JSC notified Chitembwe that it had initiated proceedings for his removal from office on November 25, 2021.

In December last year, Chitembwe, in an application before the High Court, sought to have an order restraining the Judicial Service Commission from conducting, proceeding with and determining the petitions filed before it over allegations of gross misconduct.

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