Roles reversed as judge is accused

The fight against corruption went a notch higher yesterday with the arrest and arraignment of the second in command at the Judiciary, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, in connection to graft and abuse of office allegations.

Although second in command in the Judiciary, Mwilu  appeared in court in a different capacity — as an accused person.

She was arrested at the Supreme Court buildings in the afternoon by officers led by the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti.

Mwilu and her co-accused, lawyer Stanley Muluvi Kiima, were driven under tight security to the Anti-Corruption magistrates court from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) offices where they had been questioned and processed.

Mwilu and Kiima appeared before magistrate Lawrence Mugambi shortly after 5pm and were freed on a Sh5 million personal bond each.

Kiima, an advocate of the High Court executed a promissory note for her appearance in court this morning when they are expected to plead to 13 graft charges.

Mugambi adjourned the proceedings after the charges against the duo were preferred, which would have denied them access to bond because the relevant offices had been closed.

The personal bond was granted following successful application by Mwilu’s lawyer, Senator James Orengo, who said Mwilu intended to challenge the constitutionality of the charges this morning.

The Office of the DPP led by Dorcas Oduor, Emily Kamau and Duncan Ondimu had asked the court to dismiss the bail plea.

Justice Mwilu is expected to face several corruption related charges including improperly obtaining the execution of a Sh12 million security belonging to the Imperial Bank between August and October 2013 by false pretense.

Other charges against her  are abuse office for personal gain, accepting a gift in the form of money in circumstances which undermined public confidence in the integrity of her office, conducting herself in disregard of the law, forgery, uttering a false document and unlawful failure to pay taxes for purchase of a parcel of land amounting to more than Sh7 million.

Different capacity

Justice Mwilu was represented in court by 15 lawyers among them Senator Orengo, Nelson Havi, Dan Maanzo, Julie Soweto, Jackson Awere, John Khaminwa, Peter Kaluma, Mille Odhiambo and Mutula Kilonzo junior.

Also present in court were Mwilu’s bodyguards who stood at a distance as they watched their boss face graft charges.

Justice Mwilu was arrested in the on-going crackdown against corruption in public offices, including the Judiciary.

Mwilu was arrested after the DPP Noordin Haji said his office had gathered enough evidence against her.

He said the decision to charge the Deputy Chief Justice was not made lightly and was informed by the need to ensure judicial officers comply with the highest standards of integrity.

“The evidence in our possession, reveals that Lady Justice Mwilu abused her office for personal gain, accepted a gift in the form of money in circumstances which undermined public confidence in the integrity of her office, obtained execution of a security belonging to Imperial Bank Limited now in receivership by false pretense, unlawful failure to pay taxes, and conducted herself in disregard of the law,” said the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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