By Jude Titus
The Chairman of the Judges and Magistrate Vetting Board, Justice Sharad Rao, has today been sworn in as the chairman of the tribunal appointed by President Uhuru to probe the embattled Justice Tunoi.
The ceremony was presided over by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga just days after the Secretary at the office of The President; Kennedy Kihara announced that retired Justice Jonathan Havelock would head the committee instead of Sharad Rao.
The suitability of Rao was immediately questioned after the president appointed the Tunoi tribunal. However, Lawyers Gitobu Imanyara and Aggrey Mwamu had earlier noted that Rao is past 70 years old and therefore not qualified to chair the probe team.
The constitution provides that the chair of the tribunal must be a judge or a former judge or a person qualified to be appointed judge.
‘‘Mr. Sharad Rao is not a judge or former judge and since he is over 70 years old he is ineligible for appointment as a judge. He therefore cannot chair this tribunal,’’ Imanyara stated.
In his response, Rao defended his age which has been a concern terming it as a non-issue as per the law. He indicated that the constitution was quiet on the age issue and thanked President Uhuru for appointing him.
Retired Justice Jonathan Havelock was not in when the tribunal team was sworn in and the Solicitor Njee Muturi said that Havelock had personal commitments hence would be sworn in on Thursday.
Other members in the tribunal are Judge Roselyn Korir, Judith Guserwa, James Kaberere, Abdirashid Hussein and George Wakukha.
Tunoi is said to have received a Sh200million bribe to help deliver a favourable judgment in favour of the Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero in August 2014 over Kabete Member of Parliament, Ferdinand Waititu. An allegation that both of then have denied.