A High Court judge has been recommended for removal from office after the tribunal chaired by a retired judge of the Court of Appeal Alnashir Visram said in a unanimous decision that the allegations of gross misconduct against the High Court judge Martin Muya Friday had been approved.
“The unanimous finding of the Tribunal was that the allegations against the Judge have been proven. Accordingly, the Tribunal unanimously recommended the removal of Hon Mr Justice Martin Mati Muya from office of a judge of the High Court,” a statement from Presidential Service Communication Unit said.
The Judge now has ten days within which to appeal against the decision, before the Supreme Court but if the days lapsed without filing the appeal, the recommendations of the tribunal stands.
The tribunal later presented its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta pending his approval.
The complaint against the judge was filed by NIC Bank, a party that was the defendant in a matter before the High Court in Bomet and Alfred Kipkorir Mutai and Kipsigis stores.
In the report guiding the President on the sacking of judge Martin Muya, he was found guilty afer he issued an injunction stopping NIC Bank from seizing 14 lorries used as security for a loan that a private firm, Kipsigis Stores, had borrowed from the lender. The injunction gave the company a window to sell two lorries and dismantle the 12 others and sell them off as spare parts.
Kipsigis Stores had borrowed Sh76 million from the bank. Justice Muya is also accused of taking more than five months to give reasons for granting the injunction, making it difficult for NIC Bank to challenge his decision at the Court of Appeal.
Evidence brought to the tribunal shows that Kipsigis Stores accessed two log books that were under the custody of the bank and went on to sell the lorries. The other lorries were dismantled and sold as spare parts due to lack of log books, which made it difficult for the company to sell them as complete units. The lorries were jointly registered in the names of the bank and the two directors. The lorries were to be transferred to them once they completed paying the agreed instalments.
NIC says it cannot trace the vehicles and the bank loan is yet to be paid. The bank said it had informed Justice Muya that two directors of Kipsigis Stores, Alfred Kipkorir Mutai and Samuel Cheruiyot Mutai, were disposing of the vehicles but the Judge allegedly ignored the bank’s pleas.
Evidence presented to the tribunal indicates that the bank advanced various credit facilities to Kipsigis Stores Ltd and entered into various agreements with its directors on various dates and for varying amounts. In the agreements, the two executed personal guarantees, undertaking prompt payment of the loan in the event that the company defaulted.
However, the loan fell into arrears and the lender sought to repossess the vehicles. The two directors, however, went to court and blocked the move in September 2016. The Judge granted the injunction and the matter was adjourned on several occasions before it was lifted and reinstated and parties given a hearing date.
Justice Muya finally heard the matter and gave his ruling but did not give his reasons immediately. Instead, he waited for five months. By then, some vehicles had been sold and the company placed under receivership over yet another debt by a different party.
The judge defended himself saying he could not give his reasons at once because of the pressure of work, and that in the intervening period, ordered a status quo.
This is the second time Justice Muya is facing similar tribulations. In 2003, he was among 83 magistrates sent home in the famous radical surgery chaired by Justice Aaron Ringera. His name was, however, removed from the list later and he was appointed a judge after he successfully applied for the job.
The tribunal is also investigating complaints against High Court judge Lucy Waithaka and Justice DK Njagi Marete of the Labour court. The two are facing accusations of gross misconduct and breach of the Constitution.
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