Chris Okemo, Samuel Gichuru lose bid to block extradition proceedings

Former Cabinet Minister Chris Okemo and ex-Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) Managing Director Samuel Gichuru have lost a bid to block extradition proceedings to face corruption related charges in the Island of Jersey

Justice Isaac Lenoala said the matter was properly before the magistrate's court and the duo can have their grievances heard and determined by the same court.

"This court finds the proceedings before the magistrate's court are not a nullity and they are therefore declared valid," Justice Lenaola said in his judgement.

The judge noted that Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko was within the law in instituting the extradition proceedings against Okemo and Gichuru, adding that their rights had not been violated.

Okemo and Gichuru are charged with money laundering and using a company based in Jersey Island to sanitise the proceeds accrued from their ventures.

Okemo served as Energy Minister between 1999 to 2001 before he was moved to the Finance docket where he served between 2001 and 2003.

Gichuru served as the Managing Director of KPLC between 1983 and 2003.

The two wanted their extradition blocked, claiming that there was no legal basis to extradite them to Jersey Island to face money laundering charges.

On July 11,2011 the then Nairobi Senior Principal Magistrate Teresia Murugi said the Attorney General’s powers were reduced under the new Constitution, hence the DPP could take over the cases.

Okemo and Gichuru moved to court to challenge Tobiko's powers to initiate the extradition proceedings. They said the proceedings were "fatally defective" because the DPP was "constitutionally challenged" to commence trial against the two.

Through lawyer Fred Ngatia, the two who are wanted in Jersey for laundering about Sh900 million, argued that only the Attorney General had the power to sanction their extradition.

Ngatia said that the extradition proceedings against the two should come to an end in the absence of the authority of the AG. They argued that it was unreasonable for them to be prosecuted for offences committed more than 20 years ago.

Tobiko wants Okemo and Gichuru extradited to face charges of money laundering, fraud and misconduct while in public office. The DPP authorised their extradition following the request by the UK, in accordance with the Commonwealth Extradition Act.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission carried out investigations on allegations that M/S Windward Trading Company ltd, a company registered in the Island of Jersey was established solely as a money laundering venture to sanitise the proceeds of corrupt funds accrued from kickbacks received for the award of contracts between KPLC and various foreign based companies.

Okemo and Gichuru are accused of abusing their offices by using proxy companies to squander public funds over 10 years ago, according to documents sent to the Kenyan Government by the bailiff and Chief Justice of the Island of Jersey, Channel Islands.

Investigations so far indicate that the company was incorporated by Gichuru at a time when he was serving as the managing director of KPLC and have also revealed that the said company received several suspicious payments from known and unknown companies based both within Kenya and abroard between 1986 and 2003.