Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero yesterday appeared before a Nairobi court to face corruption-related charges.
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Kidero appeared before Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti, with former Head of Treasury Maurice Ochieng’ Okere. The two denied the charges and were granted Sh2 million cash bail each, or, alternatively, a personal bond of Sh5 million and surety of Sh3 million.
The former governor’s lawyers - Senior Counsel Tom Ojienda and Peter Wanyama - convinced the anti-corruption court to spare their client another night in custody.
“The prosecution has not provided any compelling reasons to deny bail, given that the only considerable thing is whether they will attend court. I, therefore, allow the request to release them on bail as a right under the Constitution,” ruled Mr Ogoti.
The chief magistrate also ordered Dr Kidero and Mr Okere not to contact any of the witnesses and to deposit their passports with the court.
Warrant of arrest
The other co-accused - Lilian Wanjiru, Jimmy Kiambaa, Gregory Mwakanongo, Stephen Osiro, Luke Gatimu, John Njogu and Grace Githua - failed to appear in court. The prosecution applied for a warrant of their arrest.
Donning a blue suit, Kidero spent long hours in court as he denied the three charges of conspiracy to defraud Nairobi City County (NCC) a total Sh237 million.
In the first count, Kidero and Okere were charged with conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption leading to the loss of Sh213 million from the NCC.
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“On diverse dates between January 16, 2014 and January 25, 2016, at Nairobi City County, (the accused) jointly conspired to commit a fraud leading to loss of public funds in the sum of Sh213,327,300 for services not rendered,” read the charge sheet.
The former governor faced two other charges of dealing with suspect property, where it was alleged that he received kickbacks totalling Sh24 million from Lodwar Wholesalers Limited.
Kidero’s co-accused, who were senior officials in his administration, faced 31 additional charges ranging from abuse of office, fraudulent acquisition of public property, dealing with stolen public funds, receiving kickbacks and failure to pay taxes.
Okere faced an additional count of abuse of office for allegedly authorising Sh5.8 million payments to Ngurumani Traders Ltd for services not rendered.
He was also said to have authorised additional payments totalling Sh10 million to the company for services not rendered.
The charges were, however, contested by Prof Ojienda, who argued that they were a smokescreen orchestrated by political witch-hunt that could not stand the test of credibility.
“All the charges are generic. It is difficult to imagine a governor being charged for acts and omissions of other people who he had no control over. They are full of political undertones and the court should take notice not to be swayed by political pressure to fight corruption,” said Ojienda.
According to Ojienda, all the 35 counts listed in the charge sheet were only meant to hoodwink the public that this was a serious case “when all revolve around one same offense of allegations to defraud the county government”.
The magistrate also made a ruling that might change how corruption suspects are treated in future, when he said that no other person should be charged after 3pm. Ojienda had complained of delays in charging Kidero.
“From now henceforth, no corruption plea should be filed before the magistrate’s court after 8.30am on the day the DPP intends to charge the accused persons,” ruled Ogoti.
Ogoti said the culture of keeping accused persons in custody and bringing them late to court was unlawful, as it was meant to deny them the chance to argue applications to be released on bail within the Judiciary’s working hours.