The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has commenced investigations against Justice Said Chitembwe Juma following allegations of impropriety and gross misconduct against him.
In a statement on Monday, Chief Justice Martha Koome said that Justice Chitembwe will be formally served with the complaints, and required to respond within 14 days.
“Upon deliberations, the JSC resolved that the Petitions be served upon the Honourable Judge for his response within 14 days of service,” said Justice Koome.
Thereafter, the petitions and Chitembwe’s response will be considered by a panel that has been set up by the Commission. The panel will present its findings and recommendations to the Commission.
“The Commission takes this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to the values of integrity and accountability in the Judiciary. It has therefore resolved to expedite the petitions within the confines of Article 168 of the Constitution,” added Koome.
The petition seeking to remove the High Court Judge was filed in September, but JSC has ignored it until former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko leaked videos that implicated the judge.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a speech read on his behalf by Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki, accused judges of shielding their own from scrutiny.
“How can the Judiciary have the moral authority to preside over corruption cases when it bars its own from the standards of accountability it applies to others? How shall we win this war as a nation if a full third of the government is unwilling to face the rot within its ranks?” posed the President.
“In many quarters, it is being observed that perhaps judicial officers are preaching water but drinking wine, demanding others of a standard that they are not willing to apply to themselves.”
The videos and Mr Chitembwe’s present woes arise from a succession case he presided over while in Lamu. The petitioner stated that the judge presided over the succession dispute when he had an interest in the piece of land in Kwale County. The land was in the name of a company in which both the widow and the deceased husband held shares. However, the husband transferred his shares to the widow before he died in December 2014.