Businessman Anthony Odiero, ARA clash over Judge in Sh55 million case

Businessman Anthony Odiero has accused Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) officers of lying
to the court in order to put up a fight for a judge not to withdraw from Sh55 million forfeiture case.

Odiero in his submissions said that one Mohamed Godana applied to probe his mobile phone numbers before a magistrate’s court claiming that he was investigating money laundering claims.

However, his lawyer Ndegwa Njiru argued that Godana instead, sought information on Odiero’s call history, M-Pesa statements and geographical location alongside that of Anthony Manyara.

Odiero applied to have High Court Judge Esther Maina withdraw from the case filed by ARA.

He claimed that Manyara had allegedly informed him that he was acting on behalf of the Judge and needed Sh2.5 million as a kickback to give favorable orders.

Odiero said that ARA lied to the court and conducted skewed investigations in order to have the judge remain in the case.

“We submit that if the ARA was genuine, serious and desirous of establishing the truth in the claim by the applicant against Anthony Manyara who claimed to have been acting on behalf of the Judge, they would have referred the matter for investigations by either the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission or the Directorate of Criminal Investigation who have the mandate to investigate criminal activities,” argued Ndegwa.

He asserted that although ARA had alleged that it had conducted investigations, it never
established whether Manyara demanded the money or communicated with the Judge as his client had alleged.

“It is the applicant's submission that the purported investigations by the ARA on the link between the bogeyman one Anthony Manyara and the applicant, was not only skewed, incomplete and manipulated to achieve only one purpose of stating that there was no link between Anthony Manyara and the Hon. Judge E N Maina,” he said.

On the other hand, ARA argued that there was no evidence to show or link the Judge to Manyara. According to the agency, it understood Odiero’s case to be that of bias.

ARA asserted that there were no acts of commission or omission by justice Maina for any reasonable Kenyan to think that she was impartial, corrupt or biased.

ARA urged the judge to stay put adding that the petition Odiero filed before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) seeking for the Judge’s removal from office was meant to intimidate her from hearing the case.

“The court cannot disqualify itself based on the applicant’s own perception that there is appearance of bias on the part of the court and more so on the issue that this court has neither heard, nor received evidence on,” replied ARA.

The agency urged Justice Maina to dismiss Odiero’s application with costs.

The application to have the judge recuse herself emanates from freeze orders issued in June last year. 

Odiero had asked Justice Maina to lift the freeze orders and to allow him use the vehicles as they were needed for his personal and employees use.

He argued that the vehicles would waste away in ARA’s parking while they could hold onto the logbooks to avert any sale or transfer.

In response, ARA opposed the application to unfreeze the accounts. Its investigator Frederick Musyoki in his supporting affidavit argued that he had not proved that he would suffer any hardship owing to the freeze.

Musyoki stated that the arms of the law tilted to government’s side as ARA intended to file a case for Odiero to forfeit the money and the cars.

However, the Judge dismissed Odiero’s application on November 23, 2023.The order opened a new battle front between him, ARA and now the Judge.

Odiero filed a complaint before the JSC seeking the removal of Justice Maina from office.

Ndegwa also filed an application to have her withdraw from the case on December 6 last

According to Odiero, Manyara allegedly contacted him on September 6, 2023 with information about the case.

He alleged that Manyara then contacted him the following day, asking for a meeting about information that he allegedly had about the case.

He claimed that Manyara told him that he had the judge’s blessings to inform him that the case would succeed if he allegedly 'behaves'.

“Upon learning that the applicant had declined the invitation to offer the solicited Sh2.5 million the said Anthony Manyara threatened the applicant that he would never ever get justice from this court and the judge would mess the applicant’s case,” claimed Ndegwa.

He said that his client had recordings and WhatsApp messages from Manyara and had physically met with him.

Odiero claimed that Manyara was either a messenger of the court or he was an imposter who was out to tarnish the reputation of the court.

“The application is no way questioning the integrity of this court but largely apprehensive that the application dated September 8, 2023 was eventually dismissed by this court as had- been promised by Anthony Manyara.”

“The application is no way intended to actuate any attempt to forum shop for a friendlier court as I am confident that any court, save for this one, will be capable of dispensing substantive justice in this matter,” he said.