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[Photo: Courtesy]
Former Bungoma County Secretary John Matsanza has been fined Sh800,000 or opt to serve four years in jail after he was found culpable in the Sh1 million wheelbarrow scam.

Matsanza was found to have violated the laws on management of public funds and convicted of two counts of willful failure to comply with the procurement laws.

Each of his six co-accused was fined Sh600,000 or three years in prison for flouting procurement laws.

Chief Magistrate Bildad Ochieng’, in his judgement, noted that the accused failed to take full responsibility, leading to the loss of public funds.

In the judgement read on his behalf by Senior Principal Magistrate Thomas Muraguri, the trial magistrate said economic crimes were on the increase.

He said the sentence was meant to send a message to corrupt officials that courts would not spare them.

The seven were found guilty of purchasing nine wheelbarrows at the cost of Sh109,320 each in 2015, which saw the county lose Sh983,880.

They were found guilty of failing to conduct market survey to establish the prevailing market prices for the items that were to be used at the county slaughter house.

Those punished alongside Matsanza were tender committee members - Howard Lukadilu, Oscar Onyango Ojwang, Ayub Tuvaka China, Arlington Shikuku Omushieni, Jacquiline Nanjala Namukali and Reuben Cheruiyot Rutto.

After a market survey, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission established that the wheelbarrows would have cost a total of Sh54,000.

The magistrate declined to release the convicts on bail, saying their appeal was not properly filed and served to the court and the prosecution.

Through lawyer Sylvester Mandialo, the seven told the court they were not flight risks and that they had religiously attended court throughout their trial.

“The convicts have been attending court all through their trial without failure until their bonds were cancelled after they were found guilty. We urge the court to release them on bail to enable them to file an appeal,” said Mandialo.

Mr Muraguri said the defense had failed to prove that the appeal had overwhelming chances of success.

“My hands are tied to grant the orders being sought by the defence...I find the reasons provided as insufficient and the application is thus declined,” the magistrate said.

Former Bungoma County Secretary John Matsanza wheelbarrow convict imprisonment
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