Justice Esther Maina of the Anti-Corruption High Court was already ironically facing charges of corruption before the Judicial Service Commission from a third party, a month before the Deputy President last week openly named her as part of a corrupt judicial cabal.
On Thursday, DP Rigathi Gachagua declared: “I will personally present a petition before CJ Koome against Justice Esther Maina for misconduct and corruption …” The Deputy President was responding to Chief Justice Martha Koome’s challenge to those aggrieved to “lodge formal complaints against (corrupt) judges,” during the handover ceremony of Ms. Ann Amadi, the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary a week earlier.
By Sunday, the Deputy President grievances with Justice Maina were out in public, as he lamented her “declaring hard-earned wealth the proceeds of crime, without giving me an opportunity to be heard …”
Yet in the E033 of 2023 matter she is handling, Justice Esther Maina is accused of gross anti-constitutional behaviour, contrary to Sections 168 (B) and (E) of the Constitution of Kenya, as read together with the Second Schedule. In a petition brought before the JSC mid-December last year, Justice Esther Maina is alleged to have tried to solicit a bribe via proxy in September last year, dangling both stick and carrot.
In the matter, the Asset Recovery Agency had seized the property (Range Rover and Mercedes Benz) and bank account of a renown local businessman and philanthropist in the floral, insurance and high school reader publisher business, and he had naturally proceeded to the courts for his case against forfeiture.
It was then that one Anthony Manyara, via phone, reached out to the respondent, saying he had some ‘interesting correspondence’ on the matter. Intrigued, the businessman went along on 7th September in the security of a friend called Karithi for the 8.30pm appointment with the mysterious Manyara, who came across as an emissary for Lady Justice Esther Maina.
“For Sh2.5 million only,” Mr Manyara, who said he enjoyed the confidence of Lady Esther Maina, and further claimed to be at Jaffery’s with her blessings, “it can be facilitated for findings that the money isn’t proceeds of crime, and the cars were bought with legitimate money …”
Mr Manyara further shared a WhatsApp shot showing purported advice from the Lady Justice that the businessman’s lawyer to “do a certificate of urgency, saying the client needs money to pay his employees, rents, fees, food, etc.” But the businessman declined the invitation to bribe the Judiciary, saying he now has “full confidence in any other court, but not this one (of Justice Esther Maina) …”
Over the following weeks, Anthony Manyara kept up persistent phone calls, warning that if the demand wasn’t met, then said judge would dismiss all respondent’s application, regardless of their merits.
As promised, all applications from 8th September were summarily dismissed in Justice Maina’s courtroom going forward, thus forcing the respondent to both seek her recusal and haul her to the JSC in Mid-December, inviting the Judicial Service Commission to investigate the conduct of the said judge, “and take the appropriate action so as to safeguard the integrity and propriety of the Judiciary.”