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Court lifts order barring deputy CJ Mwilu from office


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Court lifts order barring deputy CJ Mwilu from office


Philomena Mwilu

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu delivers her remarks during the Council of Governors’ luncheon at Movenpick Hotel in Nairobi on January 29, 2021. PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Justice Patrick Jeremy Otieno said the suspension will be in place for 11 days, when all parties will be heard at the Meru High Court.

A judge has temporarily lifted orders barring Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu from occupying her office as head of the judiciary and judge of the Supreme Court.

Justice Patrick Jeremy Otieno said the suspension will be in place for 11 days, after which all parties in the matter will be heard at the Meru High Court.

Earlier on Monday, Justice Mwilu filed an urgent application seeking to suspend the decision barring her from occupying her office and discharging her duties as the acting Chief Justice.

In the petition before the High Court in Meru, she further sought orders for the case by lawyer Isaiah Mwongela to be transferred to Nairobi for hearing. 

Justice Otieno on Friday threw the Judiciary into disarray after issuing orders restraining Justice Mwilu from occupying her office and discharging her duties as acting CJ and as a member of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The judge further restrained Justice Mwilu from occupying the office of the Judiciary Ombudsman pending the determination of a case filed by Mr Mwongela.

The petitioner says he has evidence that provided sufficient grounds for instituting criminal proceedings against Ms Mwilu, hence her unfitness to continue holding office.

In a sworn affidavit, Mr Mwongela, who hails from Maua, Meru County, says he filed the petition in public interest.

The decision caused confusion as the DCJ, or indeed any other judge, can only be removed from office through a decision by a tribunal appointed by the President to investigate her conduct. 

In her petition, Justice Mwilu said Mr Mwongela obtained what she termed as drastic and far-reaching orders by failing to disclose some facts to the presiding judge Patrick Otieno on Friday.

She said the material includes the fact that the High Court has suspended the petitions pending before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and a hearing set for February 18.

She further said Mr Mwongela ought to have known that another case by activist Okiya Omtatah, raising similar issues is pending before the High Court and the judge hearing the case declined to grant similar orders, barring her from occupying her office.

“The material non-disclosure of these relevant and material facts was thus willful and deliberate and intended to embarrass not only this court but also the court seized of two others cases and prejudice the orderly and fair administration of justice,” she said.

The judge directed Justice Mwilu to serve Mr Mwongela before noon on Tuesday, who then has to file his responses by February 8.

The case will be heard on February 12.



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