It's now official.
It turns out that the third branch of the Kenyan government that is supposed to be the blind and impartial arbiter of right and wrong; one that is meant to be immune from the scourge of corruption is NOT impervious to an ailment that is in the very DNA of the other two co-equal branches (of the government) -- executive and legislature. The country's supreme court is at the epicenter of the latest incident of corruption at the highest level of yet another branch of the Kenyan government.
Journalist Wilson Kiplagat accused Supreme Court of Kenya Judge Philip Tunoi of accepting -- you guessed it -- a $2 million (£1.4 million) bribe. Mr. Tunoi is accused of taking the money to rule in favor of the governor of the capital, Nairobi, Dr. Evans Kidero. For those who have forgotten, election of the former head of Mumias Sugar -- itself a story of gross malfeasance -- was challenged by Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu back in 2014. The vanquished Ferdinand Waititu added his voice to the accusation claiming that "he had fresh evidence indicating that Tunoi received Sh200 million to declare Kidero as the governor."
And before the dust had settled, a senior state counsel added that "more judges of the highest court in the land may have benefitted from the alleged bribe." Mr. Ahmednasir Abdullahi tweeted that the bribe amount was not $2 million but "about $3 million": The lawyer went on to explain that the additional amount was "for four judges, whereby two were paid separately."
NOTE: The Supreme Court of Kenya is comprised of five (5) judges, one (1) deputy Chief Justice and one (1) Chief Justice compared to the eight (8) associate justices and one Chief Justice that make up the US Supreme Court. For some perspective, were this scandal to happen in the United States, seven of the eight justices of the US Supreme Court would stand accused of accepting bribes to decide the outcome of a disputed gubernatorial race during the same election cycle they decided the outcome of a disputed presidential race!
Equally unsurprising is the fact that tis this very collection of judges that ruled in favor of the current regime of Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. William Ruto after the contested 2013 presidential elections; a point raised by the Chairman of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Mr. Eric Mutua:
In the theater of the absurd that is Kenya and how the country deals with allegations of corruption at the highest level of its government, the Chief Justice of the soiled court Mr. Willy Mutunga formed a team, ostensibly to investigate the allegations surrounding his colleague Mr. Tunoi. Said the Canadian-educated lawyer and septuagenarian:
The "we" CJ Mutunga is referring to are members of the Special Committee of the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) including one Githu Muigai, the country's Attorney-General whose impartiality is suspect from the get-go. Mr. Muigai has used his office to do the bidding of arguably the most corrupt government in the sordid history of Kenya; "a bandit economy" as offered by none other than the Chief Justice himself!
So to summarize the scandal currently engulfing Kenya's premier judicial body:
A tainted Judge Philip Tunoi is being investigated by a special sitting of a body -- the Judiciary Service Commission -- whose former Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei and seven former senior officials were charged with irregular procurement of building material i.e. tenderpreneuring!