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High Court judge Said Juma Chitembwe is staring at an early and unceremonious exit from the judiciary, with corruption, gross misconduct and judicial incompetence allegations hanging on his head.

The embattled judge has until next weekend to respond to petitions seeking his removal from office, in line with Article 168 of the Constitution.

A panel constituted by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) chaired by Chief Justice Martha Koome has already been constituted, to scrutinise Chitembwe’s responses and the particulars of the petitions, before a decision is made by the commission on whether to recommend the establishment of a tribunal by President Uhuru Kenyatta to determine the judge’s fate.

Justice Chitembwe was one of the shortlisted applicants in the search for a new chief justice this year.

The JSC met Monday and gave Chitembwe 14 days to respond to the claims, and leave his fate in the hands of a panel constituted by the commission to consider his response, alongside the particulars of the petitions.

If the commission finds merit in the allegations listed against the judge, it will ask President Uhuru Kenyatta to constitute a tribunal to hear and determine if Chitembwe stays or exits the bench.

In one of the petitions filed on the 1st of September this year, by Imgard Beige and David Leboo ole Kilusu, Chitembwe is accused of open bias, malice, ineptitude and judicial incompetence.

The petitioners said Chitembwe, while stationed at Malindi High Court, handled succession case number 97 of 2015, which was concluded and a judgment rendered in May 2018. The succession case was in respect to the property of the late Peter Werner. Other parties in the matter were Pacific Frontiers Seas Limited, Okapi Estate Limited and Jane Mutulu Kyengo.

At the heart of the matter was a parcel of land situated in South Coast, Kwale County, that the petitioners’ claim was transferred and registered in the name of Amana Saidi Jirani, even before the matter being handled by judge Chitembwe was concluded.

According to the petitioners, Jirani and judge Chitembwe are related, and therefore he had a personal interest in a matter he was handling, and failed to make the disclosure, violating the judiciary code of conduct.
The petitioners further want the judge kicked out of office, for handling a matter on an immovable asset, located outside his court’s geographical jurisdiction and failing to transfer the matter to Mombasa High Court.
While citing the judge for collusion, fraud and conflict of interest, the petitioners want the judge ousted, for using a proxy, to illegally own a property that was the subject of a succession matter he was handling.
Chitembwe is no stranger to controversy. On July 22nd this year, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), acting on what they termed as actionable intelligence reports, raided Chitembwe’s chambers, and nabbed him, alongside his high court counterpart judge Aggrey Muchelule, on allegations of receiving a Ksh.6.2 million bribe to influence the outcome of a court matter.
Chitembwe was nabbed with 7,000 US dollars, but told investigators that the money was to pay school fees for his son studying in Australia.
During his interview for CJ’s position that was clinched by Martha Koome, a tearful Chitembwe was taken to task over corruption allegations.
Recently, he has been the subject of grand corruption allegations in the handling of an impeachment matter against ousted Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko.
The deposed county boss, in what has been labelled ‘SonkoLeaks’, claimed Chitembwe was using Amana Jirani, the same person mentioned in the Beige and Ole Kilusu petition, to negotiate and collect bribes running into millions of shillings on his behalf.
Chitembwe, in a recent interview with KTN, denied the corruption and gross misconduct allegations.




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