Suspended High Court Judge Said Juma Chitembwe suffered a blow on Thursday after the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal challenging a Tribunal’s decision that recommended he be removed from office over gross misconduct.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta in May 2022 suspended Justice Chitembwe based on the resolution of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which recommended the formation of a tribunal to investigate his conduct in line with the constitution.
Fast forward, on Thursday, the apex court dismissed his appeal and agreed with the Tribunal’s findings that the Judge violated the constitution.
“The Tribunal’s finding that the Petitioner’s conduct was in breach of the Judicial Service (Code of Conduct and Ethics) Regulations 2020 and amounted to gross misconduct contrary to Article 168(1) (b) and (e) of the Constitution is affirmed.” the five-judge bench ruled.
The front view of the Supreme Court of Kenya building in Nairobi.
Supreme Court Judges also did not find fault with the Tribunal’s resolution recommending the Judge’s removal to the President and as such, affirmed the decision.
The court, however did not issue any orders with regards to costs.
Justice Chitembwe troubles began after several petitioners including former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko moved to court and sued the former judicial officer over gross misconduct.
At the time, Sonko had leaked a series of videos on his social media platforms that depicted the Judge advising Sonko that the judgment which upheld his ouster as Nairobi county chief was erroneous and should be cast aside on grounds that there was bribery and coercion involved.
Some 4 other parties had also filed petitions against Justice Chitembwe complaining of misconduct by the judicial officer.
Although the petitions varied in nature, including land cases, they boiled down to the parties feeling aggrieved over Chitembwe’s conduct where they accused him of abusing his position for various reasons including to gain monetary benefits.
However, the suits were later withdrawn or terminated under unclear circumstances.
“Following the withdrawal or termination of these petitions, and given the public interest generated by the social media posts, JSC resolved on 22nd
November 2021 to initiate, on its own motion, proceedings for the removal of the petitioner under the provisions of Article 168(2) of the Constitution,” the Supreme Court’s Judgement reads.
JSC would later appoint its own committee to investigate the allegations against the Judge which began hearing accounts from complainants.
After concluding its hearings, the committee recommended to former President Kenyatta that Chitembwe be suspended and a Tribunal be appointed to investigate his conduct.
The tribunal would later find that the suspended Judge violated the constitution and Judicial Service Conduct and recommended he be removed from office.
Justice Said Chitembwe, a shortlisted candidate for the chief justice position