Why activist wants judge in Kananu cases censured

Thursday, January 28th, 2021 00:00 | By
Justice Anthony Mrima. Photo/PD/FILE

Judicial Service Commission has opened investigations into claims of gross misconduct levelled against High Court judge Anthony Mrima.

The move follows complaints lodged by a civil society activist who criticised the judge over the manner in which he handled a case involving Nairobi Deputy Governor Anne Kananu.

JSC, in a letter by its legal services director Isaac Wamaasa, confirmed receiving a petition by Bunge La Wananchi President Henry Shitanda accusing Justice Mrima of bias in the way he handled Kananu’s case.

“The JSC is fully seized of the complaint by ShiItanda which shall hence adopt JSC petition No. 11, 2021.

We write to advise the complaint is being processed in accordance with the law and the progress and outcome shall be communicated to you,” reads the letter.

Shitanda wants Mrima removed from office over alleged mishandling of a petition seeking to block the vetting of Kananu on January 15.

He accuses Justice Mrima of declining to issue orders blocking the vetting, adding that the judge issued various orders in favour of Kananu despite glaring ambiguities in the matter.

Justice Mrima had, a week earlier, ruled similarly in another case filed by former Governor Mike Sonko.   

In his January 15 ruling that was delivered at 8am declining to block Nairobi MCAs from vetting Kananu the same day, Mrima held that though the petitioners Okiya Omtatah and Habib Kongo, a would be contestant in the Nairobi gubernatorial by-election had a case, the court could take other remedial measures after the vetting.

He also ruled there would be no prejudice suffered in the event the conservatory orders were not granted.

Following the ruling, Shitanda petitioned the commission, terming the judge’s orders as absurd and a confirmation of bias on the part of the judge in his complaint to JSC.

“While this is a high-octane public interest case, it demonstrates that the judge was clearly biased in declining issuance of the conservatory orders and the judge went against all the principles of law regarding issuance of conservatory orders,” he says in the letter.

Shitanda says the judge ignored the fact that Sonko had deponed that he actually withdrew the nomination of Kananu, an issue which is germane to the petition but the judge ignored and hence has perpetuated an illegality and put the Constitution on trial.

The revocation letter has, however, been contested after the Assembly told the court during proceedings in Sonko’s case the letter was forged.

Shitanda says Mrima should be removed because he is incompetent and has allowed the “sanitisation of the illegality by the Assembly”.    

This man Mrima

“The courts are now under siege by State machinery to ensure sanitisation of the illegality by the Assembly and the Senate to impeach Sonko,” he claims in the letter.

Mrima who handled several matters involving the contested position of Nairobi governor has issued multiple orders in the cases being the judge when the court was on vacation from January 1 to 14. 

During the period Mrima handled 13 petitions in relation to the vetting of Kananu and eight challenging the by-election of Nairobi.

Following the said petitions, Justice Mrima issued two orders stopping the Nairobi by-election that was slated for February 18 in the matters filed by Sonko and Kananu.

Mrima was earlier based at Migori High Court before he was transferred to the Constitutional and Human Rights division of the High Court by the now retired Chief Justice David Maraga mid-last year. 

He had also served as a High Court judge in Bungoma.

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