Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti of the Anti-Corruption Court on Thursday, March 4 refused to rescue himself from former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s 14 million graft case.
He decreed that Sonko’s application for him to rescue himself from the case amounts to the threatening of judicial officers and that there was no evidence of bias.
“To ask a court to disqualify itself against orders which have not been appealed amounts to a threat to judicial officers” ruled Mr. Ogoti.
Sonko wanted the no-nonsense magistrate to rescue himself from the case, arguing that the court already had a predetermined outcome.
During the court session, Ogoti pointed out to Sonko and his defence team that bias can only be proven on the basis of personal or extra-judicial grounds for a magistrate to rescue themself from a case.
Stating the reasons for judicial officers to remove themselves from a case he stated that, “where the judicial officer is a party or has previously acted for a party or has a financial gain in the matter.”
The magistrate, quoting from the ruling by Nairobi Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku, said suspects must submit to the rule of law and if not satisfied by the outcome, they can always appeal.
“The same way this court holds the party with respect is the same way the court demands respect from the parties. They must submit to the rule of the law,” he said in his ruling.
Moments after this ruling, disorder ensued as Mike Sonko’s legal defence team led by advocate John Khaminwa claimed that the magistrate was ignoring their sentiments in court.
The altercation eventually ended up in Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti storming out.
This court session comes after the Anti-Corruption Police Unit (ACPU) failed to present the embattled former governor in court as had been ordered.
Ezekiel Lulei, ATPU Deputy OCS told the court he couldn’t comply with the order since there is another existing directive from Kahawa Law Courts that hinders the unit from interrogating or getting Sonko from the hospital.
At the time, the former Governor was in the hospital after he suffered stomach complications earlier while in jail.
Unfit for trial
In a different ruling, a Nairobi court has also directed that former Nairobi Governor to undergo a psychiatric test to confirm whether he is mentally fit to stand trial.
This is after the court was told that Sonko was examined by a doctor at Aga Khan hospital, who issued a report indicating that Sonko is mentally unfit to stand trial.
Magistrate Peter Ooko noted that although two medical reports have pointed out that Sonko has a bipolar condition, the issue of being mentally unfit has not been captured in the report.
The court ordered that Sonko be examined by a psychiatrist at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
The matter will be mentioned on March 12, 2021.
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