Eldoret Chief Magistrate Charles Obulutsa has rejected an application to disqualify himself from hearing politician Jackson Kibor’s divorce case. Mr Kibor’s estranged wife Josephine Jepkoech, through her lawyer, Amos Magut, had accused the magistrate of bias.
Kibor, 83, wants his marriage to Ms Jepkoech, 68, dissolved citing cruelty, desertion and denial of conjugal rights. Jepkoech has denied the claims, saying their union was blissful. The couple has been married for 52 years.
Mr Magut claimed comments by the magistrate indicating that he (lawyer) was having challenges organising his diary by fixing different matters in courts hence failing to appear in court, were working against Jepkoech.
Mr Obulutsa made the comments when Kibor’s lawyer, Mark Waziri, requested the court to close the case, citing unnecessary adjournments. The magistrate rejected the prayer, saying it would be unfair to the respondent who was present in court.
“My client feels the court has taken sides on this matter and needs the matter to be taken to another court, the comments made touching on my conduct are not impartial,” argued Magut when he made the oral application on February 7.
But Kibor’s lawyer said the application to move the matter to another court was part of delaying tactics that had yielded eight adjournments.
“There is no partiality and he (Magut) has just cast aspersions on the court and the Press. He cannot point to anything specific that justifies bias in handling this matter,” Mr Waziri argued.
During yesterday’s ruling in which Magut and his clients were not present, Obulutsa said Magut had failed to point out a specific issue that justified bias by the court.