Rigathi Gachagua gets reprieve on Gakuru inquest

Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua and Nyeri Governor-elect Mutahi Kahiga do not have to testify in an inquest on the 2017 death of former governor Wahome Gakuru, the High Court in Nyeri has ruled.

Justice Florence Muchemi yesterday ruled that the testimony of Gachagua and Kahiga would not serve any purpose at the inquest.

“I have briefly looked at the statement of the two applicants and have found they have no property value. The summoning of the applicant to testify in court will not serve any purpose in my considered view,” Muchemi observed.

Others summoned alongside the two included the County Secretary Benjamin Gachichio and the Chief-of-staff Paul Wambugu.

The inquest is looking into events surrounding a grisly accident in which the third governor of Nyeri, Wahome Gakuru died at Makenji along Kenol-Nairobi highway on November 7, 2017.

Gakuru had been in office for three months when he died after being rushed to the Thika Level 5 Hospital. The economist had succeeded Samuel Wamaathai who took over the reins after Nderitu Gachagua died in office in February 2017.

The prosecution, the judge noted, had earlier communicated its position to the lower court indicating the Deputy President-elect and the county boss testimonies had no property value. She pointed out that the lower court had granted a request by lawyer Martha Weru for summoning without examining the value the statements of the two would add to the inquest.

Weru is representing a Non-governmental organisation known as Thamana Africa and the family of the late Gakuru.

“Considering the forgoing analysis the court reaches a conclusion that’s the summons issued to the applicants on August 12 last year were irregular issued. I also find it was a misdirection by the magistrates to reject objections raised against the issued summons,” Justice Muchemi ruled.

 The application for revision had been brought under section362 of the Criminal Procedures Code which empowers the High court to recall and examine records before any subordinate court.

“It was meant to help the court to satisfy itself as to the correctness to the legality or improprieties of a sentence or orders made by the lower court,” Muchemi added.

In their application Gachagua and Kahiga were seeking a revision of orders by Nyeri Chief Magistrate Wendy Kagendo and Francis Adanyi requiring them to appear as witness on March 29 and 31.

Through lawyer Wahome Gikonyo, the two claimed that lawyer Weru who made the application for their summoning insinuated they were guilty from the bar. Kahiga and Gachagua had unsuccessfully implored the lower court to expunge their names from the list of witnesses in the inquest.

The two told the high court to take note that they had not recorded a statement with the police at Makenji or Nyeri regarding the accident. The judge directed the matter be mentioned on September 1 before the lower court which has only one witness remaining.