Justice John Onyiego has withdrawn from handling a petition challenging Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s Ksh357 million graft case.
In the case, the embattled county boss had sought the recusal of Onyigo, Mumbi Ngugi and Justice Grace Ngenye Macharia from the case citing bias.
Justice Onyiego on Thursday directed the file be placed before the principal judge Ngugi for further directions after consultation with Chief Justice David Maraga.
The judge ruled that to demand his recusal and that of Mumbi, being the only judges mandated to hear anti-corruption related matters in the High Court, was an act of forum shopping — seeking a favourable judgement.
In his application, Sonko claimed that Justice Mumbi Ngugi and Grace Ngenye barred Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulaal and Ferdinand Waititu from office respectively.
Sonko further argued that justice John Onyiego, being the head of the appellate court, will tilt his judgement in favour of the previous ruling.
The judge insisted that Sonko’s application had not met a threshold to warrant his recusal but chose to step down from handling the case for the sake of personal conscience.
“Its only fair I avoid unnecessary clamour for justice even where there’s no injustice committed by the court,” the judge said.
He noted that he was targeted after he declined to grant the governor anticipatory bail to stop his arrest and arrangement to face corruption charges in December last year.
“Grant of such orders is a matter of discretion by trial court depending on circumstances of each case. Failure to exercise discretion in favour of one party is not a ground to disqualify oneself,” he said.
The case is yet to kick off.