By Samuel Ouma
The arrest of the Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has elicited mixed reactions from Kenyans across the spectrum.
A group of Kenyans said her arrest is in connection to nullification of presidential election results last year, when President Kenyatta promised to revisit and fix the Judiciary. They castigated the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji for being used maliciously to remove her from office so that a ‘known judge’ could take her position.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said, “When the state acts against the Judiciary, it must inspire confidence not suspicion. The fight against corruption is laudable. The arrest of the Deputy Chief Justice appears like a fulfillment of the promise to fix the Judiciary.”
Some were pissed off by how Mwilu was arrested. They termed her arrest within the precincts of court as uncouth and barbaric. They decried the trends in which competent women holding public offices are being forced to step down.
“Arresting a Supreme Court Judge and the Deputy Chief Justice within the precincts of the court has never happened even in the Gestapo Germany. It is meant to intimidate, threaten and frighten the Judiciary into submission. It is something we must not accept,” Nasa self-proclaimed General Miguna Miguna posted on his twitter account.
However, another faction hailed President Uhuru Kenyatta on his fight against graft. They challenged the suspects to carry their own crosses. They expressed their satisfaction in the way the President works to slay down the dragon that has cost Kenya billions of shillings.
“Arrest of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, one who has security tenure, on allegations of bribe paltry Ksh.12 million, signals a new phase by President Uhuru Kenyatta in consolidating his legacy. Those who have stolen from the public or received bribes be afraid, very afraid,” reiterated lawyer Donald B Kipkorir.
Philomena Mwilu and her co-accused Judge Stanley Muluvi were nabbed on Tuesday afternoon outside the Supreme Court by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption officials over corruption allegations. They were taken to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation’s offices for questioning and thereafter arraigned in court.
They were charged with unlawful failure to pay taxes, abuse of office for personal gain, obtaining execution of a security belonging to Imperial Bank Limited by false pretense, accepting gift in form of money in circumstances which undermined public confidence in the integrity of office and conducting themselves in disregard of the law. They were released on Ksh.5 million bonds each.
On Wednesday, August 29, 2018 High Court suspended their prosecution on the ground of constitutional issues after Mwilu through her lawyers filed a petition to bar Noordin Haji from persecuting her. One of her lawyers, James Orengo argued that the charges were purely commercial transaction that took place five years ago and there was no factual foundation for instituting charges against her. He said the case should be heard in High Court and not Magistrate Court.
They cast doubt over the entire process of arresting Mwilu and hurriedly arraigning her late past gazetted hours unlike other cases. They claimed the Director of Public Prosecution and Directorate of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti are being used to remove her from office, remarks that have been quashed by Noordin Haji, Director of Public Prosecution.
The case will be heard in October 9, 2018.