DEFENCE CITES HEALTH

Waluke requests leniency, 'was not MP during offence'

He hopes the magistrate woke up on right side of bed, says he has over 70 dependants.

In Summary

• At the onset, MP appeared strong and jokingly teased the press as he posed for the cameras asking if the photos were enough. 

• Waluke asked the court to take account of his patriotism saying he saved the late President Daniel Moi during the 1982 coup.

Sirisia MP John Waluke.
Sirisia MP John Waluke.
Image: FILE

I have regretted committing this offence every single moment. Those were the words of Sirisia MP John Waluke to Anti-Corruption magistrate Elizabeth Juma as he awaited sentencing. 

“At the time it occurred, I was not an MP. I am humbly requesting you, grant me a lenient sentence. I hope you woke up on the right side of the bed.”

Waluke is serving his second term in Parliament but that could be lost at the stroke of a pen. On Tuesday, the retired Major was found guilty of fraud involving Sh297 million in shady maize dealings with the National Cereals and Produce Board.

For close to five hours, his lawyers, led by Evans Ondieki, pleaded with the trial court to give him a lenient sentence.

They produced big bundles of medical files from the Nairobi Hospital intimating that Waluke is seriously sick and cannot afford to stay in prison for long. 

The lawyers declined to name the condition he is ailing from urging the magistrate to look at the records before sentencing him.

Also charged was Grace Wakhungu, a co-director with Waluke at Erad Supplies and General Contractors - the firm involved in the deal.

Magistrate Juma found Waluke guilty of three counts of obtaining money by false pretences, while Wakhungu was convicted in five counts including a charge of perjury. 

The Director of Public Prosecutions had demonstrated that the duo had illegally obtained taxpayers’ money from the NCPB, the court found.

Waluke on Thursday appeared before the same magistrate to mitigate before his sentence is pronounced. At the onset, he appeared strong and jokingly teased the press as he posed for the cameras asking if the photos were enough.

Social distancing was also a challenge as the court appeared crowded even as the Covid-19 numbers escalate. The court has been operating under a tent within the Milimani parking lot but Thursday’s session proceeded in a closed room.

Waluke, 59, joined the civil service in 1981. He rose through the ranks from constable to a major before resigning in 1996. He is a degree holder from Mt Kenya University and currently doing his Masters at Kibabii University.

He has two wives and six children. He is a grandfather of four minors and has more than 70 dependants. “If I lose my seat, many people who depend on me will be left destitute.”

Waluke asked the court to take account of his patriotism saying he saved the late President Daniel Moi during the 1982 coup.

He said he appreciates the finding of the court urged it to be merciful in its decision “as he is living in a mortgaged house”.  

Wakhungu, 79, on the other hand, urged the magistrate to consider her age. She urged the court to consider a fine of Sh40 million as she is a first offender.

“I have spent all my life in public service rising to be the first woman to head a parastatal. I am remorseful and deeply regret tendering for the metric tons of maize. Please do not spell a punishment that will be harmful to my health,” she told the court.

The office of the DPP, however, said the accused persons are not special and should be held accountable for their actions. 

Prosecution counsels Alexander Muteti and Riungu Gitonga said the stolen funds were meant to ensure the country does not plunge into a food shortage.

“Treat this offence with the seriousness it deserves. Our prisons have the capacity and we have others who have such illness and they are serving. Don't be swayed by the mitigation,” Gitonga said.

Regarding Waluke’s health condition, the DPP said the MP is “as fit as a fiddle”, dismissing the 2014 medical reports presented in court as unverifiable.

“Waluke is not in bad health. When he was charged in 2018, the sickness was never featured. The medical reports he has presented have no stamps and they have not been signed,” he said.

The prosecution said the sentence to be meted out to the accused persons should be proportional to the offence committed.

“We are talking about millions. Fine is not the only sentence in law, there is also a custodial sentence which is appropriate for this offences.”

Muteti said somebody losing his seat should not be used as a ground to secure a non-custodial sentence.

Edited by R.Wamochie