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JSC to probe Sonko-Chitembwe graft leaks video

The Judicial Service Commission will meet to discuss a petition seeking the removal from office of judge Said Juma Chitembwe following viral leaks alleging misconduct and a scheme to compromise a case.

The High Court judge has been trending on social and mainstream media over the videos going the round, raising questions on his integrity.

The leaks by former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko depict Justice Chitembwe as part of a scheme to compromise the course of justice in a land dispute.

Consequently, lawyers on Wednesday petitioned the JSC to investigate the judge, failing which they will have him ejected from office. The advocates also called on the judge to step aside.

But Justice Chitembwe has denied wrongdoing, saying the videos were edited to cast aspersion on his character and depict him as unfit to hold office.

On Thursday, Chief Justice Martha Koome, who is also the chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission, said she had taken notice of what has been reported in the media and the commission was seized of the matter.

“The Judicial Service Commission will meet to deliberate on the issue according to its constitution and statutory set procedures,” Koome said in a statement about the Chitembwe matter.

The removal of a judge may be initiated only by the JSC acting on its own motion or on the petition of any person to the commission, the statement added.

Justice Chitembwe is not new to controversy.

On July 22, he was dramatically arrested alongside fellow judge Aggrey Muchelule and taken to DCI headquarters to record statements over allegations that they were planning to receive a bribe from an unnamed broker to influence the outcome of a court case.

On the Sonko leaks, the judge says the videos doing the rounds on social media were edited and manipulated to fit a particular narrative.

“Some parts have been left out. I knew about the existence of the videos in July and it was just a matter of when they would be out,” he said during an interview on KTN on Wednesday night.

According to the judge, the release of the videos was provoked by anger on the part of Sonko after he lost a case in which Chitembwe was the presiding judge.

Sonko had filed a petition to stop the swearing-in of Governor Anne Kananu. The court dismissed it.

“It is not a coincidence that the videos are released on the day of Anne Kananu’s swearing-in. He (Sonko) was angry the petition didn’t go through,” Chitembwe said.

The Law Society of Kenya Nairobi chapter, led by its chairman Eric Theuri, on Wednesday asked the JSC to investigate the judge in 14 days or city lawyers would eject him from office.

Lawyers will boycott Chitembwe’s court if no action is taken against him, Theuri said.

But the judge asked the LSK to follow the legal channel. He said whoever has any accusations against him should lodge a complaint with the JSC.

“Theuri should come to me directly and avoid press conferences. To me, this is a non-issue because it is a plotted revenge,” Chitembwe was quoted as saying by the Standard.

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