Prominent Constitutional lawyer Phillip Nzamba Kitonga is dead.
Initial reports indicate Kitonga who chaired the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review (CoE) that drafted Kenya’s new Constitution in 2010 died of heart-related complications Saturday evening.
He reportedly died while being rushed to hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest on his way from a burial in Kitui.
Born in 1956 in Kitui County, he unsuccessfully sought the seat of Chief Justice of Kenya in 2012 that went to Justice David Maraga.
Kitonga made his first attempt into elective politics in 2013 when he vied for the Kitui gubernatorial seat but lost to Julius Malombe.
Kitonga was a legal kingpin who had prominent positions. He is a former President of East African Law Society and Comesa Court of Justice. He is also a former chairman of the Law Society of Kenya.
Other roles include chairman, State Corporations Appeals Tribunal, member Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
In 2016 President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed him as the chairperson of the council for legal education in Kenya.
In 2004 former president Mwai Kibaki appointed him in the Goldenberg commission of inquiry.
Among his key achievements was Kenya’s Jurist of the year award 2010 by International Commission of Jurists for his role as the chairman of the Committee of Experts.
Chief Justice Maraga who was among the first personalities to mourn Kitonga described the senior counsel as a distinguished legal practitioner who was a key pillar in the country’s constitutional journey.
I have learnt with great sadness about the demise of Senior Counsel Nzamba Kitonga, one of Kenya's most distinguished legal practitioners and a key pillar in the country’s constitutional journey. May God give his family the fortitude to bear this heavy loss. pic.twitter.com/DwUrTxRu9G
— David Maraga (@dkmaraga) October 24, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto eulogised Kitonga as a legal giant deeply devoted to the democratic process, bringing about much-needed reforms to our country through the new Constitution.
“A man of gregarious personality, Senior Counsel Kitonga was modest yet a gifted and far-sighted leader who was genuinely committed to public service and social justice. We will remember most of his resolute belief to pursue what is right” tweeted the DP.
Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Kitonga family, the legal fraternity and friends at this tragic time. Rest In Peace.
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) October 24, 2020
ODM leader Raila Odinga said he was deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Kitonga.
I have received with deep shock news of the passing of Dr Nzamba Kitonga, one of our country’s eminent lawyers; a first-rate legal mind and fighter for constitutionalism. Dr Kitonga consistently interpreted the constitution to make sure it grew with our people and our nation. pic.twitter.com/1Gmkbwt3os
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) October 24, 2020
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko termed the late Kitonga as an icon in the legal fraternity.
“It is with profound shock and sadness that I have learned of the passing on of one of Kenya’s finest constitutional lawyers this evening, Philip Nzamba Kitonga” tweeted Sonko.
He added, “Born and raised in Kitui, the late Nzamba Kitonga beat all odds to not only become an icon in Kenya’s legal fraternity, but to serve as the President of the East African Law Society, and a member of the Committee of Experts that delivered the Constitution of Kenya in 2010”.
My thoughts and prayers go to his grieving family, friends, the legal fraternity and all the people of Kenya on the loss of this brilliant son of the soil. Indeed it is a great loss. May God bless and rest his soul in eternal peace.
— Mike Sonko (@MikeSonko) October 24, 2020