By Prudence Minayo
Paul Kibugi Muite (Born on 18th April 1945) is a renowned lawyer and politician. The founder of the Safina Party rose from a clerk and went on to become one of the notable politicians who fought for multipartism in Kenya. Christened ‘The Young Turks’-alongside the likes of ODM leader Raila Odinga, Rev Timothy Njoya, James Orengo, Lawyer John Khaminwa– they made the then President Daniel arap Moi sweat.
The senior counsel has represented high profile individuals and organizations in his decades long legal practice. After the High court nullified the 2017 presidential elections, his firm was contracted to represent IEBC.
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Here is his story as told by WoK.
The senior counsel attended Kanyariri Primary School followed by Thika High School. The politician then obtained his diploma from Kenya School of Law and an LLB (Hons) from University of London.
Prior to Kenya’s attainment of independence, he worked as a law clerk. Afterwards, he served as the vice chairman of the Forum for Restoration of Democracy- Kenya when it was still being led by the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. From 1988 to 1989, he was an internal refugee after the government seized his passport and prevented him from leaving the country.
The Kenya lawyers elected him chairman of the Bar Association (Law Society of Kenya) and in 1992, he became the Member of Parliament for Kikuyu constituency. He served in this capacity until 2007 when Lewis Nguyai Nganga won the elections. Kikuyu was changed to Kabete Constituency prior to the 2007 elections. It was once again split into Kikuyu and Kabete Constituencies.
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He is the founding chairman of the Safina party alongside Richard Leakey. The party faced a lot of opposition when it was first formed and it was not until 1997 when it was recognized as an official party.
In 2013, he was among the presidential candidates. He said that he vied for the position not because he thought he would be president but to encourage young people.
“I entered into the presidential race in 2013 in order to encourage young people that you don’t have to come from any particular family to contest for the election,” he said.
In March 2022, Jimmy Wanjigi joined the Safina party and was welcomed by Paul Muite. He was then endorsed as their presidential candidate.
The prominent lawyer is married to Dr. Edith Ndeto Muite. A medical doctor by profession, she left her job to focus on running the family business. She is a mother of three grown up children and has been married to Muite for over thirty years.
On 23rd July 1999, he was charged with six counts of stealing money from Naivasha Farmers Company and Mwana Mwireri Rironi. In 2002, the high court suspended the proceedings after Paul Muite filed a constitutional application challenging the trial. He was charged since he served as chairman of Athi Holdings. The dispute lasted for 17 years and in 2017, Muite paid Sh24.5 million to settle the case. The complainants said he paid them Sh8 million first then Sh16 million later. The lawyer said he decided to pay them since he was a director of the company.
In 2009, local dailies reported that his home had been sold to repay a bank loan he had taken. It was also reported that a group of armed men had stormed into the house and destroyed a number of valuables. This was in a bid to make them vacate. Muite said that the sale was illegal since the house had been sold for Sh35 million yet its value was Sh150 million and he was willing to pay for the latter.
Reports circulated on social media that the senior counsel was suffering from cancer. This was after a social media user shared a photo of the lawyer looking frail. In response, Muite said he was healthy and that he only lost weight for healthy purposes.
“Reports on social media that I am sick with cancer are NOT TRUE. Given my age, I have had to shed off weight on purpose to keep sugar levels where they should be otherwise I have never felt better; enjoyed 1 & 1/2 hrs jogging in Ngong forest this morning,” he wrote.
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