Drama as Iria secures order to avert arrest in Sh140m graft case

The helicopter that collected a court order at Mumbi grounds. Inset, former Governor Mwangi wa Iria. [File, Standard]

Former Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria has obtained a conservatory order barring his arrest and six others implicated in an alleged Sh140 million advertisement scandal.

However, his wife and brother were on Wednesday arraigned in court over the matter.

Before the court order was obtained on Wednesday, Iria’s lawyer Ndegwa Njiru said Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) detectives had arrested Iria’s spouse Jane Waigwe and his brother-in-law Solomon Mutura from their Nairobi residence.

The order by Justice Cecilia Githua of Murang’a High Court, restrained the DPP, Inspector General of Police, DCI, and EACC from arresting the former governor and his accomplices in a correspondence by DPP dated April 13.

“The matter will be mentioned before Justice James Wakiaga on April 23,” ruled Judge Githua.

In a dramatic event, the court order was collected by a helicopter at Mumbi grounds after it emerged that Iria’s spouse had been arraigned in court alongside her brother and pleaded they be given an hour to deliver a certified court order.

A letter by the DPP on April 13, directed the former governor, former county secretary Partick Mukuria, his former PA Muturi Karanja, business persons Jane Mbuthia, David Maina, and Mutura to report at EACC offices in Nairobi.

The DPP said a decision has been made to charge them with procurement irregularities amounting to Sh140 million.

“This follows investigations by EACC on procurement irregularities and conflict of interest in the award of the publicity tender by the county government of Murang’a to Top Image Media consultancy in 2014-2015 and 2016-2016 financial years,” read part of the statement. 

Ms Waigwe and Mr Mutura were arrested by EACC detectives and appeared before Milimani Chief Magistrate Thomas Nzioki.

However, they did not plead to the charges as they had obtained orders stopping arrest or prosecution before Murang’a High Court. Lawyer Wilfred Nyamu, told court that Justice Cecilia Githua issued the orders on Tuesday.

The lawyer said Iria, his wife Waigwe and Mutura should be free until Justice Githua heard and determined the application.

The EACC sought to arrest the former governor alongside five others after they failed to honour summons to appear at the commission headquarters on Wednesday morning. Other suspects are Patrick Kagumu Mukuria, Jane Wanjiru Mbuthia, David Maina Kiama, David Maina Njeri and Peter Muturi Karanja.

They were to appear before EACC for processing before being arraigned in court to answer corruption charges against them.

The High Court order barred the DPP, the Inspector General of Police, EACC and the DCI from arresting and prosecuting them.

DPP Renson Ingonga on Saturday last week, recommended that Iria and seven others be charged with procurement irregularities to the tune of Sh140 million during his tenure.