Lawyer Ahmednasir: Audit ownership of 120 helicopters at Wilson Airport

Senior Council Ahmednasir Abdulahi (right) is interviewed by Point Blank presenter Tony Gachoka during the production of the programme at Serena Hotel in Nairobi on May 6, 2019.

Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi wants President Uhuru Kenyatta to revive lifestyle audits to ensure State officers suspected of graft account for their wealth.

Appearing on KTN's Point Blank show that is hosted by Tony Gachoka,  the lawyer said investigative agencies should start with auditing ownership of about 120 helicopters at Wilson Airport which, he claimed are owned mostly by politicians and some senior State officers.

“A chopper costs in the upwards of Sh200 million. Their owners should be tasked to explain how they acquired them against their known sources of income,” Abdullahi said the exclusive interview last night.

President Uhuru had, last year, ordered a lifestyle audit for all State officers, including himself and his deputy William Ruto.

But the process failed to take off after Ruto’s allies claimed it was politically motivated and was intended to stifle his 2022 presidential bid and not fight corruption.

But during the interview, Ahmednasir said the only way to win the graft war was through lifestyle audit that will occasion recovery of wealth fraudulently acquired by those in power.

Recover the property

“Let him (Uhuru) start with his Cabinet and say, this is your asset, and this is your salary … and you do not have a rich father. How did you acquire it? The onus will be on the person to explain and if they fail, the Government should recover the property,” he said.

“I told the President that Wilson has 100 to 120 helicopters owned by politicians. Why don’t you start with these helicopters because they cost about Sh200 million each,” Ahmednasir said.

Ahmednasir said the focus should also be on governors, some of whom he claimed are on a mission to amass wealth.

And in a worrying assessment of the work ahead for Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and the investigative agencies, the former Law Society of Kenya chairman said close to 80 per cent of corruption cases in court will collapse due to poor evidence.

He said most of the cases have been anchored on weak evidence, adding that some of the prosecution witnesses lined up have “nothing” to offer to help the cases.

“I can tell you as a lawyer that 80 per cent of those cases are useless. They should not have been brought to court in the first place. Either the evidence is weak or … I have done cases where the prosecutor brings witnesses but you cross-examine none because there is nothing,” Ahmednasir said.

He also asked the Government to allocate enough resources to the Judiciary, DPP’s office and the DCI if it is keen on winning the war against corruption.

The lawyer said the Jubilee administration has been cutting the Judiciary’s budget every financial year in what he claimed was a scheme to cripple the arm of government.

“Every year the Jubilee administration has been cutting budget for the Judiciary and it is petty because they are fighting it. If you want the fight to go on, give resources to the DPP, DCI and the Judiciary,” Ahmednasir said.

On public accusation against lawyers for defending those involved in corruption, he said it is a “badge of honour” to represent the weak or unpopular individuals.

He, however, claimed lawyers reject so many corruption cases on ethical grounds, especially where the claims of corruption are open.

“There are so many cases we refuse to take, particularly when the theft is so clear or based on other ethical considerations,” he said.

The lawyer, in his usual straight shooting, maintained his harsh criticism of the Supreme Court, claiming the apex court chose to play politics in annulling Uhuru’s victory during the 2017 General Election.

He said the basis of the court’s historic ruling, in favour of Opposition leader Raila Odinga, was not upheld by the court in making decisions on other election petitions that arose from the election.

It is instructive to note that Ahmednasir represented Uhuru in the presidential petition. He was also in the Wajir governorship election petition, where his clients lost.

“When Willy Mutunga was the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court was very competent. If you look at the cases they decided during that time either on constitutional interpretation or election petition, the court was on a very sound basis,” he said.

He accused the apex court of failing to develop any law, declaring there was no way the court should continue operating in its current composition.

“But I think the turning point for the Supreme Court was the presidential election in 2017 when they nullified Uhuru’s win. I think that is when the court was in doubt whether it was independent or playing politics,” he said.

He added: “The day they announced it, I stood and said this is a political case… we have not decided according to the law but Kenyans gave them the benefit of doubt if they would carry the rationale of Raila’s case to other cases. But I can tell you they completely ignored it when they decided on other election petitions.”

He claimed another Supreme Court judge could be suspended and subjected to a tribunal over misconduct.

Should this come to pass, it will bring to two the number of judges at the apex court facing ouster, after President Kenyatta constituted a tribunal to probe the conduct of Justice Jackton Ojwang.

But he defended Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu against pressure to resign over corruption charges.

Magistrate court

He said judges can only be removed from office through a tribunal, noting that it was a mistake to drag her to a magistrate’s court instead of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

“When you are a member of the Executive and you are involved in corruption, the President can either ask you to resign or fire you but the Judiciary is a constitutional body with security of tenure.

“We don’t want people to be taken to court on flimsy grounds. We provided in the law that a judge can only be removed by a tribunal. The right procedure would have been for JSC to handle the matter and not a magistrates court,” said the lawyer.

He further weighed in the heated campaigns by lawyers in filling up a slot in the JSC, citing attempts of interference by the Executive.

Ahmednasir said the Executive has failed to influence the decision of the commission using members appointed by the President.