Magistrate who gave Governor Waititu anticipatory bail quits

Bernice Mbugua @BerniceMuhindi

A Magistrate who granted Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu anticipatory bail has resigned after being suspended over gross misconduct.

Principal Magistrate Bryan Khaemba wrote to the Chief Justice saying he wants to engage in other income generating activities following the indefinite suspension with no pay.

Chief Justice David Maraga had written to the Magistrate on June 13 informing him that he had been suspended without pay until his case was heard and determined.

The Magistrate had issued Waititu with a Sh500, 000 anticipatory bail on May 23 after he moved to court to stop Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) detectives from arresting him over misappropriation of county funds amounting to Sh588 million.

Khaemba was said to have gone to court to exclusively handle the issue despite matters set to come up before him having been adjourned following his request for sick leave.

Waititu moved to court on May 23 to stop  EACC detectives from arresting him in a probe involving misappropriation of county funds.

Maraga’s suspension followed a recommendation by the Judiciary Ombudsman. A Judiciary Ombudsman inquiry had found that Khaemba acted inappropriately by issuing  the bail.

According to Maraga’s letter, Lhaemba’s action amounted to gross misconduct contrary to the Human Resource policies and procedures and a breach of the Judicial Service Code of Conduct and Ethics.

“The explanation you gave is unsatisfactory as you had no authority to handle the matter, the same having not been allocated to you,” read the Chief Justice letter.

The CJ told the Magistrate that he was required to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him within 14 days failure to which the disciplinary proceedings would be instituted without further reference to him.

“You have been suspended from duty until your case is heard and determined. While on suspension you will not receive any salary,” read the letter.

In a letter dated June 14 in the response to the suspension, Khaemba denied any wrongdoing but noted that since the suspension was indefinite, he had to resign.

“Having reflected on the consequences of the suspension letter, especially on the aspect of nil salary and the fact that this process has no definite timelines, I have separately tendered my resignation letter to enable me engage in other income generating activities,” Khaemba said in his letter.

The Magistrate said that he will also give the Council of the East African Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (EAMJA) a chance to designate another Council Member to take charge of the secretariat of the Association since he has been serving as the secretary general.

Khaemba said the conditions given to him during the suspension from office awaiting disciplinary action were “a constructive summary dismissal.”

He refuted claims that he hand-picked Waititu’s application despite having been on sick-leave saying the matter was assigned to him by Senior Principal Magistrate, Stella Atambo.

“As I stated in my letter dated June 13, I handled the application on the request of Senior Principal Magistrate, Hon Stella Atambo, who was handling all such applications. This fact has not been denied by the said Hon Atambo,” the magistrate stated in a response dated June 14.

Another condition was to report to the Chief Magistrate, Kiambu Law Courts, every Friday. His transfer to Thika Law Courts had also been cancelled.

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