Tribunal acquits Justice Ojwang of impropriety claims

Monday, August 5th, 2019 00:00 |
Tribunal acquits Justice Ojwang' of impropriety claims.

Supreme Court judge Jackton Ojwang has been cleared of any wrong doing by a tribunal, which has been investigating his conduct.

The tribunal presented the report to President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday afternoon and stated the evidence against Justice Ojwang’ did not meet the threshold to warrant his removal from the top Bench. 

A statement from the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU) said the panel had cleared the judge of all four allegations levelled against him.

“After adducing and analysing all the allegations made against the Honourable Justice, the unanimous verdict is that the judge of the Supreme Court Justice Jackton Ojwang is innocent of all the allegations made against him and that he should resume his duties immediately,” chairman of the Tribunal Justice Alnashir Visram said in a shocking verdict.

The investigation was sparked by a petition filed by Nelson Odour and eight others over allegations of misconduct, incompetence and breach of Judicial code of conduct against the judge.

The petitioners alleged that Justice Ojwang benefited through the construction of a road leading to his rural house in Migori County after issuing a favourable ruling in a Sony Sugar belt case that Governor Okoth Obado supposedly had interests in.

The tribunal, however, visited the county and established that the graded road in Ojwang’s home area was a public road.

Justice Visram said his team sieved through evidence presented by 25 witnesses and considered the applicable legal principles before arriving at the conclusion of Justice Ojwang’s innocence. 

“Our unanimous recommendation, therefore is that Hon Justice (Prof) Jackton B. Ojwang, ought not to be removed from office and the current suspension should be lifted,” the tribunal said in its report to the President.

Justice Visram thanked the Head of State for the government’s support, especially in ensuring that his team was adequately resourced. 

Other members of the tribunal present during the presentation of the report were Lucy Kambuni, Justice (Rtd) Festus Azangalala, Ambrose Weda, Andrew Bahati Mwamuye, Sylvia Muchiri and Amina Abdalla.

Favourable ruling  

Also present were Paul Nyamodi (lead counsel) and joint secretaries Peter Kariuki and Josiah Musili. 

The tribunal hearings were done in-camera in Ojwang’s legal team request and media was kept out.

Judiciary Registrar Anne Amadi presented Chief Justice David Maraga’s statement to the highlighting procedures of the JSC to the tribunal.

Among the petitioner’s point of argument was the fact that the judge sat on a Bench of Supreme Court judges in a case that involved Migori County, yet he was closely associated with Governor Okoth Obado. 

They went on to allege that Governor Obado tarmacked a road leading to the judge’s rural home in appreciation of the favourable ruling he made on the county.

The petitioners argued that Justice Ojwang should have informed the court and other parties of his relationship with Obado.

“The judge did not, as required for in law, inform the parties involved of his association with Governor Obado and only did so after they protested,” read the petition.

While clearing the petition for full hearing by the tribunal, Maraga said JSC, after scrutinising merits of the petition, concluded that it had sufficient grounds to warrant a recommendation to the President to set up a tribunal for removal of Justice Ojwang.

Ojwang’ was suspended on March 20 this year after the JSC recommended to Uhuru to form a tribunal to look into his conduct. 

 Ojwang has had a long illustrious career in the Judiciary. 

Born in 1950 in Migori County, he went to Homa Bay High School where he sat his O-Level in 1968 and proceeded to Thika High School for his A-Levels.

He was admitted to UoN’s School of Law and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1974. He immediately enrolled for his Masters in Law, which he obtained in 1976. He went on to get a PhD in comparative constitutional law from Downing College in 1981.

Fresh from earning his PhD, Prof Ojwang’ rejoined UoN as a lecturer, where he rose to become the Dean of the School of Law from 2000 to 2003.  In 2015 he was awarded a Higher Doctorate in Law (LLD) as recognition of his published work and merit in field of law, making him one of the top scholars in the country.

His journey as a judge started in 2003 when he was appointed to the High Court in Nairobi, before being transferred to Mombasa.

In June 2012, he was among the five judges who defeated a pool of more than 20 experienced judges and top lawyers to land the prestigious position at the Supreme Court.

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