Kenya: Petitioner Files Ouster Motion Against CJ Maraga Over Elgon Place Acquisition

21 August 2019

Nairobi — A petitioner has moved to the High Court seeking the removal of Chief Justice David Maraga from office, accusing him of failing to constitute a bench to determine a case filed in 2016 over the controversial leasing of a building in Nairobi's Upper Hill to house the Court of Appeal.

The suit filed in the Environment and Land Court (ELC) between Sealink Holdings Limited and another versus Chief Registrar of the Judiciary and two others is still pending determination.

Fredrick Obilo alleges that the case was filed in 2016 and referred to Chief Justice for empaneling of a three-judge bench to hear the matter, he has kept the matter in abeyance and failed to act on it.

"Despite having knowledge of the case, the CJ has failed to invoke the provisions of Article 159 to ensure speedy and just hearing of the case," he stated in the petition filed on Tuesday.

Further Obiro said failure to resolve the ELC matter triggers concerns about the integrity of the CJ.

"Failure by the CJ to put an end to the wastage of public funds through the leased premises amounts to abuse of office contrary to the oath he took to uphold the dignity and respect of the judiciary," said Obiro.

The petitioner claied that on January 1, 2013 the Judiciary took over the premises of Elgon Place in Nairobi for use as the new Court of Appeal premises.

"That despite completion and possession of the leased premises, the judiciary has refused to pay for the rent and parking fees for the parking bays on the one part and service charge on the other part in accrued sum of Sh1,260,458 and Sh22.48 million as at March 31 2015," read the petition.

He claimed that failure by the Judiciary to pay the money resulted to filing of the ELC suit.

The petitioner the CJ has demonstrated a breach of the judicial code of conduct in handling the ELC case by failing to promote speedy resolution of the dispute.

The CJ, he said, has not been transparent by failing to terminate the contract of the leased premises leading to wastage of public funds as the leased premises continued to incur costs.

He urged the court to determine that the actions of CJ amounted to a violation of the constitution, gross misconduct, breach of judicial code of conduct and consequently to initiate the necessary procedures for the removal of Maraga from office.

Obilo also sought the constitution of a tribunal by the to investigate and make its determination on the infractions disclosed in the petition.

"Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to act in terms of article 168 (2) (3) and (4) of the Constitution to recommend to the President to establish a tribunal to investigate and make its determinations on the infractions disclosed in the petition," he said.

The petitioner also applied to have Maraga recuse himself, being a member of JSC, from being part of any determination presented to the Commission seeking his removal from office.

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