The High Court has acquitted five suspects convicted by a lower court for alleged failure to comply with procurement procedures, leading to the purchase of nine wheelbarrows at an inflated price in Bungoma County. The Kakamega court ruled that the grounds for conviction of the five was marred by illegality and against the spirit of the Constitution. The suspects were convicted by Chief Magistrate Bildad Ochieng' in 2018 for willful failure to comply with procurement and tendering procedures, which saw the wheelbarrows each bought at Sh109,320.
In his ruling on Friday, Justice Jesse Njagi quashed and set aside the ruling of the lower court that had convicted Ayub Tuvaka, Howard Lugadili, Oscar Onyango, Arlington Shikuku and Reuben Ruto for the offences. Justice Njagi ruled that the lower court had failed to take into consideration the fact that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) was not properly constituted when the investigations against the appellants commenced, rendering the entire trial null and void.
“The appeal is upheld on technical ground and the fact that EACC was not properly constituted; the conviction is therefore set aside,” read Njagi’s ruling.
He also declined the plea of the prosecution to order a retrial on the same evidence, arguing that the move would put the prosecution in a quagmire. The lower court had found the suspects guilty and fined them Sh300,000 for each count, failure to which they would be imprisoned for one-and-a-half year.