Mwilu back to work, attends JSC meeting

Paul Muhoho and Bernice Mbugua @PeopleDailyKe

A day after being arrested and unceremoniously paraded in court over 13 graft-related charges, yesterday was just another day at the office for Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu.

For her, it was business as usual as she strode into the comfort of her lofty office at 7.30am as the second in command at the Judiciary—and later attended a crucial Judicial Service Commission (JSC) meeting at the Supreme Court in Nairobi.

At the JSC meeting, which ended at 5.30pm, Mwilu was said to have briefed the members, among them chair Justice David Maraga, on the progress of the case.  The JSC meeting held on the second floor started shortly after 9am with a heavy security cordon around the venue to keep at bay  hawk-eyed press.

The DCJ escaped suspension after her lawyers successfully mounted a spirited legal fight to shield her from taking a plea, thus saving her job.

During the meeting, which also unanimously agreed to extend the term of Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne  Amadi by five years, Mwilu also recounted her treatment in the hands of the police. Amadi was appointed on January 2014 and her term is scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

According to a source, the members expressed reservations about the handling of the case by Director Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji and Directorate of Criminal Investigations(DCI)  George Kinoti. Although the members did not take a stand on the matter, they, however, raised concern over the  police and DPP poking their noses into a matter that ought to have been treated as civil.

Some commissioners were concerned that the matter was not handled through JSC, the constitutional channel. According to the Constitution, a complaint should have been made to JSC, to commence investigations, which, if proved, would have led to suspension of Mwilu and subsequent advice to the President to constitute a tribunal to probe her conduct.

One commissioner questioned why the tax evasion charge did not emanate from the Kenya Revenue Authority, which ought to have written to Mwilu before moving to court after having exhausted all available channels.

Mwilu, who faces a 13-count indictment involving what she calls “commercial transactions” with the collapsed Imperial Bank, is expected to appear before Anti-Corruption chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi this morning to confirm whether the suspension of the criminal case by High Court judge Chacha Mwita is valid.

The criminal case hit a snag on Wednesday after it emerged that the order issued by the judge was not applicable to the file since the defence team, led by Siaya Senator James Orengo, had relied on the charge sheet number before the case was registered in court and numbered. Orengo successfully applied for an adjournment until this morning.

Two of the JSC members, Prof Tom Ojienda and Mercy Deche, who represent the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), left the building at 1.25pm. “I have no comment at all. It was a normal meeting,” Ojienda told journalists.

Later at 3pm, High Court Judge Aggrey Muchelule strode from the building and said: “We were discussing normal JSC matters.”

And later in the afternoon, Mwilu’s co-accused, Stanley Muluvi Kiima moved to the High Court seeking that orders issued in Mwilu’s favour, staying a criminal case before a Magistrate’s court, should also apply to him.

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