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Inside The Illustrious Career of Senior Counsel Kioko Kilukumi

Senior Counsel Kioko Kilukumi is a renowned criminal lawyer and has represented high-profile clients as well as the downtrodden, sometimes pro bono.

He is currently part of President-Elect William Ruto’s legal defence team led by Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia at the Supreme Court after ODM Leader Raila Odinga challenged his win during the August 9, 2022, General Elections.

Kilukumi has handled a number of high-profile cases in the course of his illustrious career, representing a number of prominent personalities in the country.

“My role is always to ensure that the client get the best. Our job is to ensure that all evidence presented to court satisfy the threshold and in this era where we have very professional prosecutors, we must also be well prepared as defence lawyers to give our clients the best,” Kilukumi told The Standard during a past interview.

Here is his story as told by WoK.

Background & Education

Kilukumi attended the University of Nairobi and graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree in 1990.

Inside The Illustrious Career of Senior Counsel Kioko Kilukumi
File image of Senior Counsel Kioko Kilukumi. |Photo| Courtesy|


Kilukumi began his career at Kaplan and Straton Advocates where he worked between 1990 and 1993.

He left the law firm in 1993 following his appointment as Public Prosecutor in the Kingdom of Swaziland. He returned to Kenya in 1996 and went into private legal practice.

He is a part-time lecturer in criminal litigation.

Some of the prominent cases handled by Mr Kilukumi include an appeal by businessman Jon Cardon Wagner who was convicted of defiling three minors. In the appeal, Mr Wagner said he had filed 50 grounds as he seeks to overturn the verdict.

Kilukumi was also one of the defence lawyers in the Ksh5.8 billion Goldenberg scam case against three former top civil servants.

He also represented late former Internal Security Cabinet Minister Prof George Saitoti in an election petition filed against him by Moses ole Sakuda.

Kilukumi is also one of the defence lawyers who represented Dr. Ruto in the Ksh96 million fraud case against him and seven others when he was the Cabinet Minister for Higher Education in the 2008-2013 coalition government.

Ruto had been accused of selling Ngong Forest land while he served as the Minister for Agriculture. Kilukumi came to the president-elect’s aid and he was acquitted after almost two years of trial.

Kilukumi also defended former ambassador to Libya Anthony Muchiri when he was charged alongside former foreign affairs PS Thuita Mwangi and Charge d’Affairs in Tokyo Allan Mburu. The trio had been charged with abuse of office in procuring the embassy and ambassador’s residence in Tokyo at an inflated cost.

They were acquitted after the judge in the case ruled that there was no corruption involved since the government got its value for money.

The veteran lawyer also defended former Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu after she was dismissed as Cabinet Secretary for Lands. She had been charged with obstruction of justice. Kilukumi stepped in and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) withdrew the case.

When not representing his high-profile clients, Kilukumi has come to the rescue of suspects who have been left at the mercy of the prosecution for lack of legal fees.

At one time, he teamed up with Senior Counsel Ngatia at the Supreme Court to help thousands of death row inmates leading to the abolition of the mandatory death sentence.

Kilukumi has helped numerous marginalised and poor people facing prosecution.

“I used to go to the cells and look for suspects and accused persons who could not afford legal services and I represented them for free. What drives me is when I see our criminal justice system functioning,” he said.

Although he has a bias toward criminal law which he enjoys doing, Kilukumi is an all-round lawyer who also represents clients in commercial disputes, and constitutional matters and also practices other bits of the legal profession.

“Some of us like to brag about themselves but it very difficult for me to talk about myself. I only know I am not gifted with smiles but I really don’t know much about me since I only do the best I can. Other people can talk more about the striking things about me,” he said.