Five family members accused of defrauding the National Youth Service more than Sh100 million have claimed a magistrate relied on an illegal document to deny them bail.
Lucy Wambui Ngirita, Jeremiah Gichiri, Catherine Mwai, Phylis Njeri Ngirita and Anne Wambere also want action taken against investigating officer Mike Muia for signing the affidavit to deny them bail when he was not authorised by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. “Most shocking is that the magistrate relied entirely on the affidavit of Chief Inspector Muia, who is not and has never been mandated by EACC to be an investigating officer of economic crimes. The officer actually committed a crime by misleading the court,” said their lawyer Luis Wahome.
The five joined Youth and Gender Affairs PS Lillian Mbogo-Omollo, NYS Director General Richard Ndubai and 40 other suspects charged with conspiracy to steal Sh468 million in challenging the decision of anti-corruption court chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti to deny them bail.
Wahome said the five had been engaging in clean business with NYS and detaining them would make it impossible for them to retrieve details of their businesses and bank accounts to prove they never received money for goods not supplied.
He said it was illegal for the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to freeze their accounts since they had no power under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.
Other suspects, in their applications, questioned the magistrate’s conduct in handling their bail application. They want the High Court to examine the file to ascertain if the magistrate acted within the law in ordering that they be locked up. “The magistrate misdirected himself and arrived at a ruling that is a mockery of the Constitution and right to bail. No offence has been proved against me, yet he acted as if he had already found us guilty,” said Ndubai.
According to lawyers representing the accused, the magistrate relied on social media outbursts to lock the suspects up and ended up trampling the case even before it began.
They argued that it was unreasonable, unfair and impossible for the suspects to go through the bundles of documents with over 5,000 pages being relied on by prosecution while in custody. “We do not understand the rationale behind the magistrate’s thinking to deny our clients bail,” said lawyer Walioli Wabwoba.