By Jude Titus
President Uhuru Kenyatta, through Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, has declined to form a tribunal over bribery allegations against Justice Philip Tunoi.
The President in a letter said that a tribunal will not be formed until an appeal on his retirement is determined.
The letter sent to the Chief Justice, Dr Willy Mutunga and Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission [JSC], President Kenyatta indicated that suspending the judge would result to a constitutional crisis and advised to wait until an appeal on Tunoi’s retirement is determined.
‘‘At this particular moment in time when the appeal is still pending and where the status of the Judge is subject to judicial consideration, implementing the JSC recommendation would create a constitutional crisis,’’ the letter indicated.
The Judicial Service Commission found that Tunoi had a case to answer and recommended that he faces a tribunal formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The concern claims that Tunoi received a Sh200million bribe to help deliver a judgment in favour of the Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero in August 2014.
Lawyers have differed with the President’s decision and said that he has no choice but to set up a tribunal whose members must legally be named by tomorrow to decide the fate of the Supreme Court Judge Tunoi.
“He has no choice other than setting up the team to hear the case for now,’’ said Law Society of Kenya [LSK] Chairman Eric Mutua.
Former LSK Chairman Okong’o Omogeni also warned that the country could face a constitutional crisis over the rift between State House and the Judicial Service commission on the formation of the tribunal.
Legal experts in the recent past have also said that the fear of potential conflict of interest will coerce the President to appoint foreign and retired judges to be members of the awaited tribunal to probe Tunoi.
The legal experts indicated that Uhuru Kenyatta will have to be very careful on who to appoint in the tribunal because four other Judges Smokin Wanjala, Jackton Ojwang, Mohamed Ibrahim and Njoki Ndungu- who heard the petition against the election of Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero in 2014 could be implicated in the proceedings.