Philip Murgor is a Kenyan lawyer who has over two decades of experience in his trade. He has had an illustrious career that has seen him work as the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) among other powerful positions. The lawyer styles himself as a man of integrity who has a strong conviction in upholding the rule of law. He is also authorised to practice at the International Criminal Court.
Murgor was among the candidates whose sights were set on being the next Chief Justice, a position that went to Martha Koome.
The former DPP was born on 4 July 1961 1961 in Iten.
Philip joined the University of Nairobi for his undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree followed by a postgraduate diploma from Kenya School of law. In 1982, while still at the university, he was among the students who were incarcerated for six months following the attempted coup on Moi’s government.
Murgor told Eve Mosongo of his arrest and subsequent incarceration as the most defining moment in his life:
“I was in university and was caught in the wave of arrests that followed the attempted coup. I was locked up for six months. For six months you are lying in a cell for 24 hours, except for a few minutes of sunlight every day. The 100-watt light bulb never goes off. You think about your past life and your future, if you will get out”, he told the Standard journalist.
Later, he successfully completed a Master of Law Degree from the same institutions where he specialized in international trade and investment law.
In 1986, he was admitted to the bar. He chose to become a public prosecutor rather than joining the private sector which paid more. Among his memorable stints is representing the government of Kenya and Central Bank during the Goldenberg scandal.
In 1992, he was part of the legal team of the late retired second president of Kenya Daniel Arap Moi during the 1992 elections.
In 2013, former president Mwai Kibaki appointed him the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). He believes he got this role due to his integrity and that this role is one of the most important ones he has ever had.
“The DPP’s position is the most difficult assignment in Kenya. One ceases to have friends. Can you imagine defending graft suspects in court, socializing with them and then having to prosecute them later as DPP? These ones will expect favors from you. If you cannot change your lifestyle, turn down the appointment,” he told the media.
Back in 2017, he declared his intention to vie for the presidential seat on a United Democratic Movement (UDP)Ticket. He was to have a female running mate. His move was driven by a desire to offer Kenyans fresh leadership but right now he has no intentions have changed and he is no longer interested in politics.
Asked if he intended to run for the presidency, the ex-DPP told the Standard:
I do not see the need to. My motivation at that particular time was that many Kenyans were frustrated and they said they wanted a candidate who would address these simple but critical issues. I offered myself, but it takes a huge psychological effort to put yourself in that space and make that decision.
After David Maraga term came to an end as chief justice, the position became vacant prompting a number of people to apply for the position including Philip Murgor. He believed at the time that he was the right person for the job because of his negotiation skills, and was able to provide firm leadership. He rated Maraga’s performance at 65% and believed that he could have done more, especially in his relations with the government.
“I think Maraga lacked diplomatic skills in his leadership. Addressing the press to castigate and impute improper motives on the part of the duty bearers in the government cut the leverage that he may have had to get things done,” he told The Star.
He is the first born of the late Christine Murgor and his father Murgor who was a provincial commissioner. The older Murgor married four wives, Selina, Christine, Hannah and Dinah who had five, six, two and four children respectively.
For years, the family had been in dispute over properties left by the late Murgor which included a 250 acre land in Turbo constituency and Kaylet farm in Uasin Gishu county which measures 1400 acres.
The veteran lawyer is married to Judge Agnes Murgor and the two have three children aged 29, 26 and 21 (two daughters and a son). The eldest is a lawyer, while Kibet is studying communication and the youngest is doing International Finance.