The head of Kenya’s Judiciary Friday said that an internal probe has found that a Supreme Court judge should be investigated further over allegations that he received a $2 million bribe to influence an election petition.
The Judicial Service Commission committee set up to investigate Justice Phillip Tunoi recommended a further probe by a tribunal, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said.
Tunoi is accused by journalist Geoffrey Kiplagat of receiving a bribe to make a judgment favoring Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, whose March 2013 election was being challenged by his closest rival.
Tunoi, through his lawyer Fred Ngatia, said he was ready to face the tribunal and reiterated his innocence.
Kiplagat claims he participated in the deal to bribe the judge.
The allegations test 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 intertribal fighting followed the disputed 2007 presidential election.
Despite the reforms, Mutunga was recently quoted saying that the internal elections in the judiciary were riddled by corruption. Corruption is endemic in Kenya and affects all sectors. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta late last year declared corruption as threat to national security.
Transparency International, in its 2015 corruption perception index, ranked Kenya near the bottom — 139 out of 167 countries.