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Uhuru: Why I won’t form Tunoi tribunal

President Uhuru Kenyatta has declined to form a tribunal to investigate corruption allegations against Justice Philip Tunoi saying it would trigger a constitutional crisis.

In a letter to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga by State House chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua, the President cited the High Court ruling that Justice Tunoi should have retired at 70 (he’s now 72).

AVERT CRISIS

The President says he intends to avert the crisis by awaiting the outcome of an appeal that has been filed by Justice Tunoi, saying the judge has already been declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to have “retired form office on attaining the age of seventy years”.

“We further note that an appeal against the decision of the High Court has been instituted and is pending before the Court of Appeal and that the Court has yet to pronounce itself on the matter, consequently the decision of the High Court stands,” reasons the President.

“We, therefore, propose that we await the outcome of the judicial process after which we shall process the petition as required by the constitution and the law.”

DISMAY

Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi ‏expressed dismay at President Kenyatta’s decision, tweeting: “@UKenyatta your excellency the constitution is too simple and clear. You can’t ignore or obey as u wish. Shocking.”

Statehouse has been quiet over the formation of the tribunal, with the last communication having been sent out on Tuesday last week alleging that key investigation files on the bribery claims were missing.

The judge was implicated after a former radio broadcaster Geoffrey Kiplagat, in a sworn affidavit, accused him of having received a Sh202 million bribe from Nairobi County Governor Dr Evans Kidero to influence the election petition judgment in his favour.

In recommending the formation of the tribunal, Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on February 5 said it was “satisfied from the totality of the material and information presented before it that there was inappropriate interaction and communication between the Hon Mr Justice Philip K. Tunoi and agents of a litigant in a matter pending before the Supreme Court.”

WITHIN 14 DAYS

The commission then submitted to President Kenyatta a petition for formation of a tribunal on February 9, which according to Article 168 (5) of the constitution the President is required to appoint the tribunal within 14 days after receiving the resolution.

Justice Tunoi has denied the bribery allegations and reiterated his innocence against the “false accusations that have been made against him. The judge will appear before the tribunal once it is established,” he said after the JSC recommended his suspension and formation of a tribunal to investigate the accusations.