Friday, September 02, 2016
Philip Murgor: Watch this space!
A digital essay by Onyango Oloo
I am among the almost half a million people who follow Robert Alai on Twitter. So when I saw him announcing that veteran lawyer, former senior prosecutor
Philip Murgor was running for President, I sat up and took notice. I immediately contacted Philip to ask him if it was true.
I have known
Philip Murgor for over thirty years.
We both entered University of Nairobi in 1981-he to the Faculty of Law while I was admitted to the Faculty of Arts. In August 1982 we were among over sixty students who were rounded up and hauled to kangaroo courts on trumped up charges in the aftermath of the abortive coup. The university students- including people like MP Richard Onyonka, the rugby stars Vitisia and Sagala, not forgetting then dreadlocked thespian Kibisu Kabatesi-now a confidant to Musalia Mudavadi-spent over six months in horrid and filthy conditions at the notorious overcrowded Nairobi Industrial Remand Home. Ultimately, because of sustained international pressure and a global human rights outcry they were released and many like Murgor, resumed their undergraduate studies with Philip going on to get his top honours law degree in 1985. A handful of others, like the late
Titus Adungosi, former ambassador to the USA, Oginga Ogego the late
Jeff Mwangi Kwirikia (dad to popular Kenyan music artiste STL) and blogger/activist Onyango Oloo went to receive stiff sentences which they served in full at the Kamiti and Naivasha Maximum Security Prisons.
When I asked him over the phone to confirm what Robert Alai had tweeted,“Wait for the official announcement David” was Philip’s response using the first name I used to go by when I was younger.
His coy answer was poignant in that he did not disavow his bid for the top elective office in the land- just that he would tell us himself when he was good and ready.
Still, the mere prospect excited. Here was someone around my age, someone of my generation, someone I ate half cooked ugali and weevil infested maharagwe with saying:
Let’s do it!
More importantly here was a man whose integrity I could vouch for.
Given his stellar marks in law school, Philip Murgor could have easily gone into lucrative private practice after his pupilage at the prestigious Hamilton, Harrison and Matthews firm. Instead he opted to be a poorly paid state counsel in Kisumu- in effect, bucking the elitist trend by choosing to be a public servant. Although he did set up his company in partnership with his wife in 1992, a decade later, the Mwai Kibaki appointed him the Deputy Public Prosecutor- without soliciting for or applying for the job!
Unfortunately, his diligence and no nonsense approach to fighting criminals was to prove his undoing. After two years on the job- because he was determined to collar and incarcerate the politically connected, deep pocketed thugs behind a high profile cocaine case, powerful insiders in the Kibaki administration schemed, in much the same way that saw the forced exit of anti-corruption czar John Githongo, Philip Murgor was fired from his job. You can read more about the cocaine story by visiting this link , this other one and this one. You can also get a first hand account from this Daily Nation interview he did in 2013.
The good thing about being incorruptible is that you can walk openly in public with your head held high because every night you go to bed with a clear conscience. Philip Murgor simply went back to what he had been doing before- running a successful law firm and raising a wonderful family.
People close to him intimate that Philip is focused on slaying four dragons- the behemoth of corruption; the monster of tribalism; the scourge of inequality and the contagion of impunity.
Is he up to the task?
Well, as the main said, wait for the official announcement.