• Waititu was arraigned on Monday alongside his wife Susan Wangari Ndung’u
• They are linked to a Sh588 million tender scam
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu could stay out of his county office for two years over graft charges.
Waititu was arraigned on Monday alongside his wife Susan Wangari Ndung’u. Also charged were Luka Mwangi, Charles Chege, Beth Wangechi, Zacharia Njenga, Joyce Ngina, Simon Kabocho, Anselem Gachukia, Samuel Muigai, Testimony Enterprises Limited, Saika Two Estate Developers Limited and Delta Hotel.
They are linked to a Sh588 million tender scam. The governor has been barred from accessing his county workplace and the case against him might take time to be determined.
Anti-Corruption Court magistrate Lawrence Mugambi said barring Waititu from going back to the office does not violate the Constitution or amount to his removal but is intended to ensure the integrity and credibility of the trial and safeguard the public interest.
Mugambi imposed the condition as he granted him Sh15 million bail and alternative Sh30 million bond. Waititu plans to appeal against the decision.
On Monday, Waititu put on a spirited fight to ensure he remains in office, pending his trial. Through lawyers Tom Ojienda and Nelson Havi, he said the court can’t turn itself into and electorate and end his term prematurely because of fraud charges.
But Mugambi said imposing the conditions that guarantee integrity and credibility of the trial cannot be illegal.
"I don’t agree that limiting the governor's access to the office is an affront to the Constitution... If it were to be the case, denying an accused bail or bond would be tantamount to finding them guilty, yet there are many people in remand who have been denied bond and continue to attend court for their trial," he said.
He said for the court to ensure the administration of justice is not compromised, it’s necessary to guard against the risk of possible prejudice in the criminal justice process by imposing such conditions.
“In my view, restricting access to the office is a reasonable condition. I also conquer with remarks made by Judge Mumbi Ngugi, who found the provisions of Article 62 (2) of the Anti-Corruption Economic Act (ACECA) are contrary to the constitutional requirement of integrity in governance and undermines the prosecution of officers,” Mugambi said.
Mugambi agreed with Mumbi that provisions entrench corruption and impunity in the land. "I find Justice Mumbi’s decision more persuasive and authoritative and consider it as binding in this court.”
Mumbi upheld a decision of a lower court that barred Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal from performing the functions of his office.
The ruling said Section 62 of ACECA requires that a governor cease to perform the functions of his office if he has pending criminal charges against him.
In granting Waititu bail, Mugambi said the embattled governor would be required to deposit all his travel documents. Waititu's wife, Susan, and Wangechi, were granted Sh4 million bail or Sh10 million surety.
Members of the county tender committee Njenga, Ngina, Kabocho, Gachukia and Muigai were granted Sh1 million bail or Sh3 million bond. They were also barred from accessing their offices, pending the conclusion of the case.
The magistrate ordered the accused persons not to contact witnesses or interfere with evidence. It is alleged that between July 2 last year and March this year in Kiambu, Waititu knowingly acquired an indirect private interest of Sh25.6 million in respect of payments made to Testimony Enterprises for contracts awarded to the company by his administration.
He faced another count together with his wife and accompany they co-founded — Bienvenue Delta Hotel. It is alleged that between October 3 last year and January this year, the two proprietors of the company jointly received Sh7.2 million from Testimony Enterprises while having reason to believe the amount was acquired from Kiambu county through corrupt conduct.
(Edited by F'Orieny)