NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday suspended Supreme Court Judge Justice Philip Tunoi who is facing allegations of receiving a $2 million bribe in an election petition.
Kenyatta appointed a seven-member tribunal to investigate Tunoi’s conduct in the election petition lodged by a rival against Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero’s March 2013 election victory.
Journalist Benjamin Kiplagat claims he was involved in plans to bribe Tunoi to favor Kidero in the judgment of the case.
Tunoi, through his lawyer Fred Ngatia, earlier this month said he was ready to face the tribunal and reiterated his innocence.
The case tests the credibility of Kenya’s Supreme Court, which was formed in 2010 when the country adopted a new constitution.
Before reforms ushered in by the new constitution, the credibility of the Kenyan judiciary had been in question for decades. The constitution of August 2010 requires that all judges be vetted. Ten judges and 31 magistrates lost their jobs after they were found to be unfit to hold office.
The constitution also guarantees the independence of the judiciary from executive interference. The constitution was part of a deal that brought peace to the country after the intertribal fighting that followed the disputed 2007 presidential election. More than 1,000 people died and 600,000 were evicted from their homes.
Despite the reforms, Chief Justice of Kenya Willy Mutunga was recently quoted as saying that the internal elections in the judiciary were riddled by corruption. Corruption is endemic in Kenya and affects all sectors. Late last year, Kenyatta declared corruption a threat to national security.
Transparency International, in its 2015 corruption perception index, ranked Kenya near the bottom — in place 139 out of 167 countries.