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You risk impeachment, lawyers warn Uhuru over Tunoi

Lawyers have warned that President Uhuru Kenyatta could be impeached from office for refusing to form a tribunal to investigate bribery allegations against Supreme Court judge Justice Philip Tunoi.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president Eric Mutua said the President’s decision was another instance where he has violated the constitution and warned him of dire consequences.

“We wish to remind the president of the provisions of Article 145(1) of the constitution that provides that he is subject to the constitution and that he may be impeached by Parliament for such a violation,” he said in a statement.

Lawyer Betty Murungi, in a series of tweets, also weighed in, saying the head of state’s decision was illegal.

“Language of ART 168(5) is mandatory. Not subject to interpretation. The president SHALL within 14 days after receiving the petition…”

She then wondered what role the Attorney General, a member of the Judicial Service Commission had played in the decision.

“1)Wasn’t AG on the JSC that sent the petition to the president? 2) isn’t there an injunction that put the HC decision on ice?”

President Kenyatta, in a letter to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said a High Court had ruled that Justice Tunoi should have retired two years ago and until his (Tunoi) appeal is heard, the decision stands.

Legal experts have, however, been dismayed by the decision.

Lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi also camped on Twitter where he made his opinion known.

“I’m told HE Uhuru has been advised by AG Githu that justice Tunoi is not a judge in Kenyan judiciary as he is over 70 yrs. @UKenyatta your excellency the constitution is too simple and clear. You can’t ignore or obey as u wish. Shocking,” he wrote.

“A judge is alleged to have received with $2 m bribe. JSC petitions president to appoint a tribunal. HE Uhuru refuses. Grants him immunity.

Mr Mutua, on his part, argues that the position of the law is that under Article 168(5) of the constitution once the President receives a petition from the JSC advising that a tribunal be constituted to investigate a judge, he must constitute such tribunal within 14 days.

“We expect Hon AG to either properly advise the Government and if his advice is not taken he should resign from office,” he said.

Should the President have his way and the Court of Appeal overturn the High Court ruling on Justice Tunoi, the LSK boss argued, such a tribunal may not be formed unless there is a constitutional amendment to Article 168(5) in order to extend the period within which he may act.

“Any tribunal or body constituted after the 14 days period shall be unconstitutional and subject to challenge. Accordingly, irrespective of the decision by the Court of Appeal, the Hon Justice Tunoi may never be investigated. It is a clear blow to the fight against corruption and the quest for a clean judiciary,” said Mr Mutua.