Two charged with extorting Sh30 million from road contractor

Hellen Ngondu Mwachala and Mohamed Abdi Karim when they appeared at Kiambu Law Courts yesterday where charged with intent to extort Sh30 million  from Musa Osman Yarow. They pleaded not guilty. [PHOTO: KAMAU MAICHUHIE/STANDARD]. 

A man and a woman have been charged in a Kiambu Court with attempting to extort Sh30 million from a road contractor.

Hellen Ngondu Mwachala and Mohamed Abdi Karim sort to extort the money from Musa Osman Yarow, lest they expose him in the newspapers after claiming he won a Sh3.2 billion tender using fraudulent.

They were accused that on September 12, 2018 at Panfric hotel within Nairobi County, jointly with others not before court, demanded Sh30 million from Yarow. The duo who was arraigned before Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo pleaded not guilty.

The plea was however not admitted by the court after the lawyers representing the accused made an application objecting its admission terming the offense as vague and faulty. Charles Midenga representing Karim pleaded with the court not to admit the plea since the charges presented did not disclose any offence in law.

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The court will on Friday set to make a ruling on the application. Before the duo took plea, there was heated argument pitting the lawyers representing the accused and the prosecution over an application by the defense seeking the case be transferred to Milimani court in Nairobi.

The lawyers argued that the alleged crime by the duo was committed in the city and therefore the case ought to have been taken to Milimani law courts whose jurisdiction Nairobi city falls.

Prosecution Counsel Mary Ongaki however opposed the application by the accused saying the Serious Crimes Prevention Unit which was handling the case was at liberty in filing the matter at Kiambu law courts since it is within their scope administratively and legally.

The magistrate ruled the law allowed to take plea at the court. “There is no reason why this court cannot take the plea before it and the objection by the defence is overruled and the accused person will go ahead and plea before in court,” Ms Atambo ruled.

The duo was released on a Sh1 million bond and a surety of a similar amount or a cash bail of Sh1 million. Ms Mwachala was arrested on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 when she went to pick the money from the contractor at Panafric hotel. Police later arrested Abdikarim after she linked him to the extortion ring. Three other individuals are under probe.

County Builders Limited filed a complaint at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) alleging a demand of the amount to withdraw a case filed in court challenging the award for the Mandera-Fino road in Mandera County.

County Builders Limited through the law firm of Sagana and Biriq wrote to the DCI on 7th September 2018 claiming that some strangers had been calling its directors seeking the money to withdraw the case challenging the award.

 “We are instructed that the said persons are harassing our client with the intention to extort money. On instructions of our client, we humbly request for your intervention, investigation and possible prosecution of the conmen,” the letter by lawyer Innocent Muganda and stamped received on 10th September 2018 and signed reads in part.

The firm was awarded the tender for upgrading and maintenance of Mandera-Fino road to bitumen standard at a cost of Sh3.2 billion on 23rd May 2018.On 29th August 2018, Mombasa based Commission for Human Rights and Justice (CHRJ) filed a suit at the Milimani Law Courts, claiming the contractor (County Builders Ltd) was illegally diverting some Sh244 million advance payment to it to other projects.

CHRJ, in an affidavit signed Ogogo, sued County Builders Ltd, Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) and the Public Procurement Oversight Authority.

On 30th August 2018 Justice Eric Mwita directed the petitioner (CHRJ) to serve all the respondents in the case.

Ogogo says he filed a case to challenge the contract award saying he moved to court following a complaint from a whistle-blower who former civic aspirant.

It’s after the case was filed that directors of County Builders say they began receiving calls from people who claimed they can prevail on the activist to drop the case and allow them to start works.

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Kiambu CourtSh30 millionHellen Ngondu MwachalaMohamed Abdi KarimMusa Osman YarowKiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella AtamboProsecution Counsel Mary OngakiCounty Builders LimitedDirectorat