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Why Jubilee want city judge out of all election cases

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has demanded the removal of Justice George Odunga from all August 8 election matters, accusing him of favouring opposition leaders in past cases.

In a letter to Chief Justice David Maraga, Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju said Justice Odunga should recuse himself from the cases until his conduct has been investigated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

“The issue of Justice Odunga, his decisions, his closeness to (Siaya Senator James) Orengo should be tabled before the JSC, where we shall adduce irrefutable evidence.

Prior thereto, please replace the judge with another judge or a Bench of judges that is not perceived to be hostage to any political party,” Mr Tuju said in the letter dated August 1.

Mr Tuju said the request arose due to a schedule where the judge would be the one on duty over the election disputes filing period.

JUDGE ON DUTY

“It has come to our attention that the judge has offered to be the only judge on duty from July 30 up to August 11 in both the Judicial Review Division (JRD) as well as the Constitutional Division. These are the two divisions that will handle all disputes leading to the General Election and immediately thereafter,” Mr Tuju said in his letter.

This is the second time Mr Tuju has called to question the conduct of Justice Odunga in matters relating to opposition figures, particularly Mr Orengo.

“Justice Odunga is related to Senator James Orengo through marriage. Sarah Odunga is a niece of James Orengo. Indeed, her younger sibling is known as James Orengo Junior,” Mr Tuju said at a press conference at the Jubilee headquarters.

BASELESS ALLEGATIONS

Mr Orengo termed the allegations baseless, saying he had practised law, and now as senior counsel, with the highest form of integrity.

“If it is looking at my relatives in high places, it should not be Justice Odunga. It should be President Kenyatta, whose sister was married to my cousin, Dr Owino, a dentist,” said Mr Orengo.

Justice Odunga, described by many lawyers as thorough in his judgments, was last month named head of the JRD.

The court, a Judiciary performance review said, had heard 500 cases and that all its judgments and rulings were delivered within 60 days.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

In his letter, Mr Tuju cited nine cases he said Justice Odunga should have recused himself because of the alleged conflict of interest.

One of the cases Mr Tuju mentioned was the most recent one, where a three-judge Bench that included Justice Odunga ruled in favour of petitioners seeking to quash the awarding of a tender to print presidential ballot papers to the Dubai-based Al-Ghurair firm. The ruling was later quashed by the Court of Appeal.