Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has dismissed the abuse of office charges facing her in the Court of Appeal linking them to Chief Justice David Maraga’s succession politics who will retire in January 2021.
Mwilu said the energy being applied in her case by Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti was not of public interest but to ensure she does not succeed Maraga when his term lapses.
Her lawyers Nelson Havi, Julie Soweto and Jackson Awele told Justice Weldon Korir on Tuesday, September 22 that the case was all about Maraga’s succession politics during the hearing of an application by the DPP and the DCI to be allowed to join a case filed by the judge, seeking to block the JSC from hearing four petitions lodged against her.
“The interest of the petition is not to take the DCJ through a fair process but to address the succession politics of the chief justice,” the lawyers said.
In a petition filed with the Judicial Service Commission seeking her removal from office, the DPP declared her unfit to hold public office on account of abuse of office, using her status to enrich herself, evading taxes and engaging in inappropriate communications with suspects in criminal cases.
Mwilu was charged with obtaining a loan of Sh12 million from the collapsed Imperial Bank by virtue of her office as a Court of Appeal judge charges that were quashed by a bench of five judges comprising of Justices Hellen Omondi, Mumbi Ngugi, Francis Tuiyott, William Musyoka and Chacha Mwita who ruled that an order used by the DCI to investigate her accounts had no bearing on the case.
Chief Justice David Maraga currently 69, is expected to leave office on January 12, 2021, upon attaining 70 years as required by the Constitution.
When he leaves office, his deputy will automatically be the acting chief justice, chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and president of the Supreme Court.
In an earlier appearance before the legal committee, Maraga said he will take his terminal leave of 30 days on December 12.
“I will take my terminal leave on December 12 but the Judicial Service Commission cannot start the process of recruiting when I’m away, I will still be the Chief Justice,” Mr Maraga told the committee.
The National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee now wants the Judiciary to come up with legislative proposals to allow the Deputy Chief Justice to act in the absence of the Chief Justice.
They said there will be a crisis hence required Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu step in in an acting capacity until another Chief Justice is appointed.