Tunoi ‘bought land’ at time of alleged bribery

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Bidali
Judiciary Ombudsman Kennedy Bidali is sworn in as a witness when he appeared before the tribunal investigating the conduct of suspended Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi in the Sh200 million bribery allegations / JACK OWUOR

Tunoi ‘bought land’: The Ombudsman says the suspended judge also bought two tractors

The Office of the Ombudsman yesterday claimed that embattled Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi bought land from former powerful minister Nicholas Biwott during the height of the Sh200 million bribery.

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The bribe is alleged to have been given out by Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero during the hearing of an election petition against him filed by Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu.

Waititu was contesting Kidero’s election as governor.

Testifying before the tribunal looking into the conduct of Tunoi, the Judiciary Ombudsman said the judge also bought two tractors during the period.

Kennedy Bidali, the head of investigations at the Ombudsman, said he questioned former journalist Geoffrey Kiplagat who told him that Tunoi allegedly bought the property in a deal in which he was a “go-between”, but missed out.

“When I interviewed him in Eldoret, he looked a bitter man because he expected some money from the Sh200 million bribe,” Bidali said.

In Kiplagat’s affidavit, he claimed that the judge bought 200 acres of land in Uasin Gishu during the period.

But in protest, Tunoi’s lawyer Fred Ngatia disputed the allegation and said the judge was ready to transfer the property to the tribunal or Judicial Service Commission if they exist.

“In the public, the allegations are viewed as the truth and we want proof of transfer of the land or logbooks for the tractors,” Ngatia said.

He said there are several allegations which have been levelled against the judge which have not been substantiated.

Ngatia protested the admission of a National Intelligence Service report, which does not have a letterhead and is not signed.

Bidali continued and said that during interrogation, he confirmed that Kiplagat’s email and phone book had some exchanges with the judge.

“Kiplagat told me that he had known the judge for more than four years while he was handling a land case along Jogoo Road and that they come from the same village,” he said.

Bidali is also the head of anti-corruption at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission said.

He said on the first day he contacted Kiplagat after receiving the complaint of corruption allegations against Tunoi from Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Kiplagat declined to give him audience fearing for his life.

Bidali said that after several attempts, he accepted to be questioned on the affidavit he had sworn against Tunoi on condition that he is guaranteed security.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

(+) Magnitude of claims against suspended judge

The Judiciary Ombudsman deals with complaints arising from magistrates and judges in judiciary. Ombudsman Kennedy Bidali says due to the magnitude of the complaint against suspended Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi, information was restricted to a few people in the office to avoid tampering of evidence and interference.

The Judicial Service Commission found that Tunoi has a case to answer in relation to allegations of misconduct. Following recommendations of the JSC, President Uhuru Kenyatta suspended the judge and appointed a tribunal to probe his conduct. The tribunal is chaired by former Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board chairman Sharad Rao.

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