NAIROBI Kenya, Dec 15- High Court Judge Said Juma Chitembwe has been granted 30 days to respond to three petitions that seek to have him ousted from office over bribery and incompetence allegations.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) secretary Ann Amadi in a letter to one of the petitioners indicated that the High Court judge requested for an extension of time on December 6, 2021 ahead of the hearing slated for Tuesday December 14, 2021.
“We regret to inform that the oral hearing earlier scheduled for December 14, 2021, upon which the commission had requested your participation has been postponed to a later date which shall be communicated to all parties, to allow the Judge to file his response within 30 days from November 25, 2021, as per his letter of request dated December 6, 2021,” reads the letter.
Amadi said that the panel dealing with the petitions will give a new date for the oral hearing.
The commission also granted former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko more time to finalise recording his statement on his allegations of gross misconduct against the judge.
Sonko was summoned to testify against Justice Chitembwe on videos he posted on social media dubbed ‘The rot in the Kenyan Judiciary’.
Amadi said the commission’s attention had been drawn to several video clips, social media posts and cell phone recordings released by Sonko in which the judge’s conduct had been brought to question.
Although Sonko’s aide, Francis Wambua, had filed a petition for removal of the judge from office, the registrar said the JSC had resolved to initiate proceedings on its own motion.
Justice Chitembwe however filed a case in court seeking to quash the impending disciplinary proceedings. He wants the court to block JSC from using the video recordings made by the former governor as evidence of the alleged misconduct.
Chitembwe said the videos were illegally obtained and therefore cannot form a basis for his removal.
In his affidavit, the judge said the video recordings posted by Sonko on his Facebook and Twitter pages and other social media platforms were recordings done without his knowledge or consent.
The judge is also apprehensive and uncomfortable with the manner in which JSC processed the three petitions filed by Francis Wambua, Imgrad Beige and David Leboo ole Kilusu.
“All decisions made by JSC in respect of the petitions lodged and the proceedings have been taken without resort to any rules of procedure or practice bearing in mind the JSC’s failure to make regulations for the conduct of its proceedings,” says the judge in the court papers.
He noted that since the enactment of the Judicial Service Act (2011), JSC has not formulated any procedural regulations for determination of petitions for removal of judges from office.