JUSTICE DELAYED

How virus has slowed some high-profile corruption cases

Most of these cases have a high number of accused persons, and the numbers are hard to manage in the middle of a pandemic

In Summary

• Most of these cases had already begun and were at an advanced stage

• There are some that are yet to to start and are still at the pre-trial stage

KPLC bosses in court on July 16 last year
KPLC bosses in court on July 16 last year
Image: COURTESY

The Covid-19 pandemic has stalled some of the high-profile corruption cases, including the multimillion-shilling Kenya Power graft case.

Criminal cases cannot be heard virtually like the other civil cases. The witness is supposed to be led by the prosecution through testimony, and some of these cases have over 10 accused persons who have to be physically present for the hearing to proceed.

Most of these cases have a high number of accused persons who have lawyers, and so it becomes hard to manage these numbers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 
 

However, there are a few cases that have concluded hearings and are either at the defence hearings stage or awaiting judgment.

Chief magistrate Elizabeth Juma, who gave the landmark sentence to Sirisia MP John Waluke, is also expected to give her judgment in ex-CS Hassan Wario's Sh55 million Rio scandal case.

In December last year, Juma ruled that Wario had a case to answer in the corruption case that led to losses during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

In her ruling, Juma said after considering the evidence and listening to 28 witnesses, she found that Wario and his co-accused had a case to answer.

Wario, who also faces six counts of abuse of office, was charged alongside Haron Komen, who was the director of administration in the ministry, and former finance officer Patrick Nkabu.

Wario is accused of improperly facilitating six individuals’ travel expenses to Rio Olympics, causing loss of public funds.

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamoong's corruption case had also concluded hearings, and it is during this Covid-19 period that the court ruled he has a case to answer in the Sh8 million garbage collection case.

 
 

Magistrate Douglas Ogoti ruled that with the evidence on record, the prosecution has established there is a case against Ojaamong and eight other county officials.

The governor was charged with engaging in a scheme to defraud the county government of Busia of Sh8 million between March and September 2014. His legal team is preparing their defence in a bid to save him from conviction.

NEAR CONCLUSION

In former Governor Evans Kidero’s case, several witnesses have already testified and the prosecution is on the tail end of its case before the court rules whether he has a case to answer.

Two year ago, Kidero was charged with several counts of alleged theft of over Sh200 million from the county government.

Kidero was charged alongside eight others with conspiring to commit fraud that led to the loss of Sh213 million at the Nairobi county between January 16, 2014, and January 25, 2016.

Embakasi North MP James Gakuya's case is also in its advanced stages and almost all the witnesses had already testified before the pandemic.

Gakuya was charged with embezzlement of CDF funds amounting to over Sh39 million.

The MP and his co-accused pleaded not guilty to the charges of mismanagement and embezzlement of Sh39.8 million.

Gakuya and the CDF officials were also charged with fraudulent acquisition of public property, conflict of interest, conspiracy to defraud and wilful failure to adhere to procurement and disposal laws.

Former NLC boss Mohammed Swazuri’s case is also nearly completely its prosecution and witnesses have testified against him and his co accused.

Swazuri was charged alongside former Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina and 15 others with illegally facilitating the payment of Sh221.3 million in compensation for the acquisition of land for the Standard Gauge Railway.

He is also accused of abuse of office and plotting to defraud the taxpayers by approving the colossal payments for five parcels of public land.

Swazuri has two different corruption cases. In the second one, he was charged with conspiracy to steal Sh109 million alongside NLC commissioner Emma Muthoni, CEO Tom Chavangi, director of valuation Salome Munubi and director of finance Francis Karimi Mugo

It is alleged that they conspired to commit an economic crime through fraudulent payment of Sh109.7 million for compulsory acquisition of land from Tornado Carriers Ltd to expand the Kipevu Bypass road in Mombasa.

The famous KPLC case where two former directors were charged alongside other officials is also about to conclude the prosecution before the court can determine whether they have a case to answer.

Former KPLC managing directors Ben Chumo and Ken Tarus were charged on several charges in relation to the Sh400 million faulty transformers scandal.

Chumo and Tarus were charged alongside nine others with conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office, aiding the commission of a felony, wilful failure to comply with the law, conspiracy to defeat justice and fraudulent acquisition of public property and procurement/supply of faulty transformers.

It is alleged that between August 3, 2012, and June 12, 2018, the accused committed economic crimes by fraudulently procuring transformers worth over Sh400 million.

Tarus is also separately charged in a second case with carelessly failing to comply with procedures and guidelines relating to procurement, which led to fraudulent payments of Sh159 million to companies that were unprocedurally pre-qualified for labour and transport service.

IN EARLY STAGES

There are also those cases that have already begun and though they are not at the tail end, several witnesses had already testified before the pandemic stalled them.

Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal’s case commenced this year, and a few witnesses have already testified.

He was charged a year ago with four counts of abuse of office and conflict of interest, leading to the loss of Sh84.6 million public funds.

Lenolkul is accused of using his company, Oryx service station, to supply petrol and diesel to the county.

At the time he was charged, magistrate Douglas Ogoti released him on a Sh100 million bail that stunned the country as being the highest bail terms ever issued to an accused.

However, he went to High Court and the bail was reduced by Justice Mumbi Ngugi to Sh10 million.

Another high-profile case still pending in court is that of ex-Treasury CS Henry Rotich, who was charged a year ago in relation to the multibillion-shilling Arror-Kimwarer dams scandal.

The trial is yet to begin as there have been several cases filed at the High Court to challenge the lower court’s charges.

Rotich was charged alongside ex-PS Kamau Thugge, EAC PS Jemutai Koech and KVDA boss Kipchumba Kimosop, among others.

It is alleged that they jointly conspired to defrauded Sh2.4 billion in the construction of Kimwarer dam by entering into an agreement disguising it as a government-to-government loan. 

They face 16 counts, including failing to comply with procurement law and irregular procurement, issuing of policy through single sourcing for the dams projects.

Rotich, Thugge and PS Susan Koech are accused of conspiring to defraud the state of $244 million concerning the construction.

Governor Mike Sonko’s case is also yet to start its hearing and is still at the pretrial stages.

Sonko was charged in December last year alongside several other City Hall officials with embezzling over Sh350 million from the county.

It is alleged that between May 24, 2018, and March 28, 2019, in Nairobi City County, being the governor, he jointly conspired with the co-accused to commit an offence of corruption, namely embezzlement of public funds in the sum of Sh357,390,229 from Nairobi City County Government.

In a second file, Sonko was further charged alongside Fredrick Odhiambo, Robert Muriithi, Zablon Onyango, ROG Security Ltd and Anthony Otieno with embezzling Sh24.1 million through a contract for an electronic revenue collection and payment solution.

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his wife were also charged last year in relation to a Sh588 million road tender.

They were charged alongside nine other suspects with irregularly awarding the tender to Testimony Enterprises. The tender was for upgrading of gravel roads to bituminous service.