Revealing the Bones in the closets of Kenya’s senior counsels

By Vanquished Vanquisher
The rank “Senior counsel” is a revered title in the Kenyan legal profession. It is conferred by the president upon lawyers who are said to be of “high professional integrity” and who have served as Advocates for a period of more 15 years. The honour is a local mirror replica of the English “Queen’s Counsel.”

Save for the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Senior Counsels take precedence in addressing the court. They are also entitled to the front desks in courtrooms. In addition, where they are alleged of being involved in professional malfeasance, the Advocates Disciplinary Tribunal has no jurisdiction over them. They have their own tribunal.
Argument has been, these favours need to be accorded to the senior counsels as a recognition given their irreproachable professional lives that made them deserving the conferment of the title.

Chairmen to seniors
In year 2003, president Kibaki conferred the first batch of persons with this distinguished honour. President Moi, perhaps having seen the vanity of such classification, never in his entire term as the president conferred any lawyer with this title. But President Kibaki had to. And in his honouring, almost all the initial beneficiaries were the former LSK chairpersons. Its immensely guffawing how by mere virtue of one holding a political post that is LSK chair would promote one to be a “distinguished practitioner of irreproachable integrity.”

Fortunately, this conferment is no longer a sole discretion of the president. Currently, there is a committee on Senior counsels which is tasked with vetting prospective candidates and making recommendations to the president.
Their distinguished careers not withstanding, most men and women holding this rank carry on them, like a camel hump, baggage of their past controversies and unresolved ignominies. For senior counsels are said to be of irreproachable conduct, that irreproachable must be easily discernible from their career history.

In this brief, we shall sample ten of the men holding this title, men who are said to be of irreproachable professional conduct and famed as ‘distinguished practitioners’ and in the course, reveal the bones encased in their closets.

1. George Oraro
Oraro strides the Kenyan Legal profession like a colossus. He is a respected veteran with a stellar career spanning over decades. He has has been involved in high ticket litigation, earning him both fame and fortune. However, he has stains; big, indelible stains.

The Law Society of Kenya, in the report titled “Realising Integrity Law; Walking The Talk” listed names of various individuals allegedly to have been involved in human rights violations, corruption and other economic crimes, obstruction of justice among other terrible vices.

The LSK report is lurid with details on the murder of Robert Ouko. It recounts that at the scene when Robert Ouko was being killed, George Oraro was present. Oraro accompanied the assassins as they finalised their killing rituals? What was he doing there? Ensuring appropriate legal rituals were being followed? The report adds that LSK gave Oraro a chance to respond to these grave allegations but he was not interested.

The senior counsel has never been cleared on this issue. Even after our intense labour in research diligence, we could not get any press release by him denying his involvement in Ouko’s murder as alleged by the LSK report. His only riposte on the issue is instituting a defamation suit against former Kisumu MP, Gor Sung’u, when the latter said publicly that Oraro was involved in the murder.

The court slapped Sung’u with 3 Million defamation damages in favour of Oraro. But this did not make the allegation dissipate. As things stands now, the issue is and still remains a bone in his closet. How are the juniors supposed to revere a man with such grave and vile accusation against him? Does he merit the senior counsel tag when such suspicions are still live?

2. Fred Ojiambo
Fred Ojiambo is a thoroughly-bred, adept and a refined litigator. He is the managing partner of Kaplan & Stratton, one of the Kenya’s premier white shoe law firms. His legal prowess, and that of the firm he leads, has attracted both the blue chip corporates and masked ghosts seeking his services.
Masked ghosts here include among others mobitelea, the undisclosed shareholders of Safaricom and the wife of Rwandan Fugitive Felician Kabuga who are clients of Fred Ojiambo. Granted, there may be no issue in this. Lawyers are allowed to represent ghosts, provided the ghosts pay their legal fees.
But there are issues. In the year 1994 or thereabouts, Fred Ojiambo was appointed and duly served as the secretary to the Commission on Devil Worship. This was a bogus commission established by president Moi and chaired by the late Nyeri archbishop, Nicodemus Kirima. It was tasked to investigate the rising cases of devil worship in the country.
It’s unbelievable that a lawyer of Ojiambo’s calibre could consent to being a member of such a bullock contraption. This may be a vivid indicator that Ojiambo is a man of minutia virtues and principles, whose rise to the pinnacle was fueled by dalliance with crooked regimes of passed past.

3. Githu Muigai
Githu Muigai, apart from being a respected professor of law, he also holds an infamy of being a self-declared legal mortician. Even before rising to the post of the Attorney General, Githu had made a name in the field of academia as well as legal practice.
But as the Attorney General, Githu changed. The Nairobi Law Monthly once labelled him the “bungling attorney” on a feature they did on him. And for bungling he has. For it is Githu who commandeered the process of paying the Anglo fleecing fat cats after messing up the Kenyan arbitration case in London. Tony Gachoka, being hosted by Jeff Koinange in his KTN late night talk show- JKL- would later reveal at cost of heavy contempt of court penalties, that the Anglo leasing figure heads paid was one Jim Wanjigi, who is said to be a friend of both Githu and the man in charge of the presidency.

Githu, as the Attorney General, he is the titular head of the bar in Kenya. He is expected to structure the state law office to be an exemplary law firm. But Githu has been unable to champion any meaningful reforms there. Even students who intern at his office as pupils receive no stipends. Instead of being their pupil master, for his stinginess, Githu has turned state law office into a slave master. He has failed to live up to the seniority that his senior counsel status was bequeathed.

4. Paul Muite
Muite’s is a lawyer of immense charisma. He has built a reputation as a fearless advocate. Further, he has credentials of a national leader and was even one time considered as a serious presidential contender. He is a humble man with easy mien. Fame has never gotten into his head like his contemporaries. Within the corridors of court, he mingles freely with others lawyers and even spares a minute for a chat.

During his tenure as the LSK chairman, Muite championed accountability. He was the Czar lampooning Goldenberg conveyers. Amid a refusal by the government to take action against the perpetrators of the scandal, Muite instituted a private prosecution against Kamlesh Pattni, who the image of the multi-billion-shilling scam.
Everything crumbled when in 1999 when Pattni sensationally claimed that he had bribed Muite with Sh20 million in return for Muite going slow on him.

Muite denied the allegation. Nzamba Kitonga, the LSK chair then, constituted an independent probe to look into the allegation. The probe concluded that payment of Sh15 million to Muite had been established, putting the last nail into Muite’s standing as a man of honour and credibility.

5. Keriako Tobiko
It has been reported elsewhere that Tobiko has solid academic credentials. Before his appointment as the Director of Public Prosecutions, which was then a post in the Attorney General’s office, after abrasive Philip Murgor had been purged, not much was known of Tobiko. On his appointment, critics said the Kibaki regime had specifically cherry picked him for the post because he was a man who could be fine-tuned to compliance unlike Murgor. As history evolved, critics were vindicated.

The Pandora’s box on Tobiko was opened when he was being vetted by a committee of the National Assembly for the re-established post of the DPP. The first bullet was shot by the former Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui who told the vetting panel that Tobiko was a corrupt individual who had demanded a 5 million shillings bribe from him. Professor Yash Pal Ghai and PLO Lumumba also appeared and told the committee that Tobiko was used as protege of the government to undermine and eventually scuttle the 2005 constitutional review process. Yash Ghai has proved to be a man of honour and there is remote possibility he could publicly make such allegation if they were false. And yet, we have Tobiko as a senior counsel!

6. Gaturu Muthoga
Muthoga is a veteran lawyer who has served the profession with dedication. In addition, he has served as a judge in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Muthoga issues comes from the family of J.M Kariuki. A section of Kariuki family has consistently claimed that Muthoga destroyed the JM’s will when he acted as the family lawyer. In view that a will is the key probate document, and without it the administration of the estate of the deceased is done through the very clumsy intestacy procedures, this was an extremely vile act, whatever the reasons there may have been. How can Muthoga therefore be said to be of “irreproachable professional integrity”?

7. Mutula Kilonzo
The late Mutula Kilonzo cut his niche as a lawyer who would do anything in defence of president Moi. As far as Mutula was concerned, Moi could do no evil, devise no evil and execute no evil.

Mutula’s real shade was revealed, quite unfortunately, after his death. Even before a requiem mass was held, a young woman aged 23 years by the name of Eunice Nthenya rushed to court claiming that Mutula was the biological father to her 8 year old son. This means she got the child when she was only 15 years. The senior counsel was sleeping with a minor aged 15 years? In Kenyan law, that is defilement. The senior counsel deserved no less than two decades in jail. Much to the taunted ‘irreproachable conduct’.

8. Kenneth Akide
Who is this now? Not much is known of this man. The only public account of him is that once upon a time, he served as the LSK chairperson. And he was very colourless chair at that. And that made him the senior counsel? Totally outrageous! He is not known in academia. He is not known to have convictions on public policy discourses. No reputation precedes him as well-bred litigator or expertise in any area of law. And yet he is a senior counsel. Just like that.

9. Ahmednasir Abdullahi
Ahmednasir, the Grand Mullah, is a popular figure in the legal circles. Unlike his contemporaries, he has tried a hand in academia and even published a book, even though its about burials.

Equally, he runs a Nairobi Law Monthly magazine which publishes various budding and established writers. He is reputed to be abrasive, but to his credit, he has substantially utilized this arrogance for public good by unleashing his potent bile upon corrupt judicial officers, leading to many of them being sent packing.

However, if Ahmednasir was a professor in a university, most certainly, he would be appointed without opposition as the dean, the faculty of hubris and arrogance. In addition, his qualification as an advocate has been questioned, allegation being he faked his pupillage. His pupil master, one Mr Simani, whose signature Ahmednasir purportedly forged, did not help matters by refusing to come to Ahmednasir’s defence. Mr Simani would later die in the West gate Terrorist attack. Most of the suits probing the Grand Mullah’s qualification were dismissed on limitation of actions grounds. The allegation that he faked pupillage is not conduct which can be termed as of irreproachable, demanded of a senior counsel.

10. Tom Ojienda
In a report by the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission presented to Parliament by President Uhuru, there were details on how Professor Tom Ojienda colluded with Nairobi Governor Evan Kidero to defraud Mumias Company of Sh280 million. In this scheme, Ojienda invoiced Mumias for legal services he did not render. These acts led to the collapse of Mumias Company. And yet Ojienda is a senior counsel expected to earn the reverence of the junior lawyers. Like seriously?

Finally, the evil triumphs over Good; the House of Mumbi preference for crooks as leaders is highly flummoxing

By Vanquished Vanquisher

Beware of the Ides of March! Evils and omens hangs on the horizons; like vultures waiting for a succumbing prey to savour the carcass. The Ides is March 15. The day when the evil Brutus assassinated the valiant Julius Ceaser.

Waititu; Being in the dock earned him votes
Waititu; Being in the dock earned him votes

The evils of Ides visited Kenya early in the morning as they woke up to a hugely depressing, albeit familiar tale, that a renowned goon of inverse integrity, is on the verge of representing people of Kabete to parliament.This reality is only a tip of immensely shocking trend in the House of Mumbi and the larger jubilee fraternity, to fall in political love and hobnob with crooks, genocidiares, drug peddlers and surrogates of Lucifer.

It has become increasingly difficult, nay, impossible, for men and women of repute to find even a breather of space in the elective forum of the House of Mumbi politics. For to win an electoral contest in that region, one must have a mien of a grand mafioso, shambolic reputation, highly allergic to honour and integrity, and have zero reverence to qualities of class and good governance.

We have seen them—beginning from one Bensouda boy, who later rose to become the grand patriarch of state house, whose apotheosis to elective prominence was solely due to his alleged role as a lead General in inter-tribal crusades to butcher some “infidels” who opposed his reigning tribesman march to state house through vote thuggery. The same patriarch would later engineer the collapse of his ICC case by crooked antics, misusing the state largesse to dampen witnesses, and these mischief, surprisingly, made the house of Mumbi Love him even further and deeper.

This maybe an obnoxious fact, but it behooves to notice that this is the same region with highest concentration of churches and pastors in the country but, and alarmingly so, is having the highest turnover of tragic leaders; and keeps on churning them in hell for leather rate. Any association with integrity of character is a huge disability to the wannabe House of Mumbi politicians.

It is here where a man the US embassy and Kenyan intelligence has mentioned his name in same sentence with ill terms such as drug trafficking, got a sweeping victory over an able gentleman who, visibly, would have lifted the county to magnificent heights. Its the same region which would elect an M.P purely on his ability to invent and hurl most lousy tribal slurs and epithets against one enigma and his tribe.

Any leader from that region who portrays even a shade of modesty, is on the path to their political Waterloo. When one Nyeri Women representative said I.C.C victims needed some justice, she was bombed by entire store of artillery. Noticeable, leading her Armageddon was a certain retired Facebook warlord reportedly based at statehouse, and who rose to glory and fame for hacking ICC website, exposing the witnesses, eventually leading to their deaths and mysterious disappearances.

This way, the leaders from House of Mumbi have turned into a motley of marionettes, performing a charade choir. They all seem to have deposited their wits in a lock room situated somewhere in Ichweri. For as it has turned out, having a pretense of intellect as a central Kenya politician is politically terminating cancerous tumor. The only thing they can do politically apt is intellectual political masturbation within closed arenas.
What is happening? This is the region hitherto known to shape the political sphere of honour. Its the house known to have reverence for matriarchy. But now all these salient boons have been sacrificed. The House of Mumbi, with her preference for vision less charlatans for leaders, only signifies the beginning of the collapse of the once revered empire. We may as well begin composing dirges. Fare thee well, the house of Mumbi.

Tribe based Contracts and tribal hostilities in Kenya; Revealing the nexus

By Vanquished Vanquisher

Ancient tribal pacts and unions are usually the fuel for the present day inter-tribal warfare in Kenya. Most of the communities involved in hostilities trace the cause to some historical bond and brotherhood gone haywire. The fatal infighting between Pokomo and orma, Samburu and Rendile, Turkana and Pokot people, to an outsider, all look like brothers’ feuds. They are all like the two houses, Montague and Capulet, which Shakespeare prologues in Romeo and Juliet as follows,
          Two households, both alike in dignity,
          From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
          Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
          And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
         Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove

There was once love among the feuding communities mentioned above. Either, the love was unappreciated by most probably, breach of an agreement thus triggering enmity in perpetuity. Are ancient romances the cause of present day grudge?

A man conducting an ethnic ritual in Kenya

Tribal pacts
President Uhuru has sworn his jubilee juggernaut intend to maraud the political scene like a colossus for two decades. His basis being that the merger of Kikuyu and Kalenjin power base has sired an invincible political monster. What Uhuru does not appreciate is he has mortgaged his tribe. Kikuyu’s political title is now charged with a promise, their political will cannot be exercised due to this encumbrance. Kikuyus’ vow to reciprocate the Kalenjin vote is promise which failure to honour will certainly brew a grudge and spur a new mutiny. And the grudge will run in perpetuity. Has Uhuru not caged his tribe?

Turkana and Pokot have a hobby of butchering each other. It seems their grouse has to do with grazing area. It has to do with cattle. It has to do with river Turkwell. It’s either one of these communities violated a mutual code on usage of these resources or abrogated the ancient pledge not to raid and steal cattle from each other. Seed of discord was planted with the violation, which has mutated to current day bloody feud which present uphill task to halt.

An outsider may not distinguish between Pokomo and Orma. They may be like one tribe, only that the underlying aversion of each other is so strong to have an odour, and not once, there has been reported cases of massacre and counter massacre between them. The former are farmers and the later keep cattle. The loathing seems to be a derivative of some dishonoured promise, most probably on usage of resources. The ancient accords just mutated into fiendish banes.

The above illustrations are classical examples whose effects rage to date. In current day Kenya, it’s the tribal leaders who unwittingly lead their filial into making these unholy bonds especially in the political arena.

There is in and out dual legacy of the Luhya-Luo political love. This may have been partly inspired by Masinde Muliro’s purported prophecy that the Luhya supremacy to citadel of power will originate from the Luo land. Hence, Luhyas have had reflexive tendency to favour a luo candidate during the general election. Their various attempts to prop a presidential candidate have failed with loud bang. Various drives calling marshaling for Luhya unity have been more numerous than presidential task-forces on this and that. But when and if they get that unifying man with balls to boss the Luhya, will they demand Luos to reciprocate and offer them support? And in case luos fail, will that be a source of friction between the two tribes?

From this discourse, we can discern that dishonoured social and economic pacts have more likelihood of causing tempers to flare as compared to political ones.

No strings unattached support; the Kikuyu wiles
Yet some communities have managed to get favours from others without necessarily bonding to reciprocate. Kikuyu tribe ably demonstrates this altruism. She has always gotten favours from others without being beholden, making her produce presidents and entrench her dominance. The community has had various relations with the Maasai, Kalenjin, Indians and their so-called Meru, Embu cousins without being cornered to making a promise to them. The interaction has been that of one night stand.

Everybody seems to owe the Kikuyu a favour. But the Kikuyu have never demanded return of favour from anybody. The tribe has efficiently conducted her relation with other tribes in a mode of “let’s do business and part.” That explains even with its deep interaction with others, it never seem to harbour any ancient grudge.

                  Legacy of Kikuyu and Meru unions
What has been the relation between Kikuyu and the Meru? Meru leaders have been sulking not to be benefiting from Kikuyu tenor in power despite their unflinching support. The relation between these two communities is queer, is always on and out. The Meru leaders vow to severe links failed as it never resonated with the masses. What did Meru want the Kikuyus to do for them? There was never a promise. Merus are natural political lackeys of the Kikuyu.

The legend says the father of the Kikuyu tribe, Gikuyu, had nine daughters but no sons. To procreate the tribe, Gikuyu would have to commit incest. But being a virtuous man, he would never have followed this path. It’s most likely that he imported a man from Meru to have his daughters give birth. That may explain some uncanny cultural resemblance between the two communities. Kikuyu tribe is the first son of the Meru.

The two communities do not seem to have had any interaction in pre-colonial days. However, they co-operated closely during the colonial days when they jointly joined forces in Mau Mau efforts. It’s said General Mwariama from Meru was the most trusted ally of Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi.

                      General Baimungi

But when independence reckoned, the first casualty of President Kenyatta’s dictatorship and streak of assassination was Mau Mau General Baimungi from Meru. The poor General was reluctant to put down his arms until his soldiers were given some compensation in form of land. Kenyatta moved to silence the dissident and is said to have ordered his killing. Kenyatta had turned into a bitch that ate her puppies. And having tasted blood of a kinsman, more and more killings characterised his regime.

In the year 2006, Kenyatta’s son Uhuru paid Baimungi’s family a visit, perhaps to recompense the sins of his father. It therefore seems Merus are cosy and naturally inclined towards the Kikuyus, but not towards the Kenyattas. The union between the two has no strings attached hooks. This explains the absence of animosity between the two tribes.The peace is entirely due to the reason of there being no historical grudge between them.

In conclusion, tribal pacts always mutate to tribal grudges which invariably translates into hostilities. These pacts and tribal unions ought to be abhorred. It’s why the Kikuyu-Kalenjin contract to dual exchange power is recipe for future resentment. The two communities have no historical cosiness, have been involved in infighting and this pact ought to send alarm bells. The danger here is one tribe is held in ransom of having to reciprocate the support. Formation of tribe aligned brotherhoods ought to be abhorred and deterred. Why did Uhuru Kenyatta unwittingly mortgaged his tribe?