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High Court upholds three-year jail term for ex-EPRA boss Oimeke

National
 Former EPRA Director-General  Robert Pavel Oimeke. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Former Energy Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) boss Pavel Oimeke lost an appeal challenging a three-year jail term or a Sh1 million fine imposed on him for bribery.

Justice Esther Maina on Thursday upheld Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Peter Ooko’s verdict after finding that Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Renson Ingonga and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) had a watertight case against Oimeke.

The former Bonchari MP had moved to the Anti-corruption division of the High Court arguing that the lower court erred by finding that he had received a Sh200,000 bribe in order to give the green light for re-opening of a petrol station in Oyugi, Homabay county.

“I have considered the appeal, evaluated the evidence before the trial court so as to arrive to my conclusion and I find that the charge against the accused was proved beyond reasonable doubt and the sentence imposed was within the law,” ruled Maina.

Oimeke was charged with two counts. In the first count, it was alleged that he received the Sh200,000 bribe. In the second count, it was alleged that he requested a Sh500,000 financial advantage through the Signal mobile app.

The court heard that the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had slapped the Homa Bay petrol station with Sh309,000 fine. The firm paid the amount but required EPRA’s authorisation to re-open.

It was claimed that Oimeke demanded Sh200,000 facilitation fee to allow the petrol station to resume operations.

The anti-corruption magistrate court in Nairobi on March 28 found Oimeke guilty of pocketing the Sh200,000 bribe in December 2020.

EPRA has broad powers over the sector. It sets retail fuel prices every month and approves electricity tariffs, along with its oversight duties.

In March 2021, Oimeke resigned as EPRA boss and joined politics. He said he had communicated his resignation to the then Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter.

He vied for the Bonchari parliamentary by-election on May 18, 2021, after the seat fell vacant following the death of MP Oroo Oyioka on February 15, 2021.

Oimeke, who ran on the ODM ticket, won the by-election after getting 8,049 votes against his closest challenger Zebedeo Opore of the Jubilee Party who garnered 7,279 votes. UDA's Teresa Bitutu came third with 6,964 votes.

In April 2022, he said he would not seek re-election after losing the ODM ticket to Jonah Ondieki, who was given direct nomination.

ODM's Ondieki, however, lost the Bonchari MP seat to Charles Onchoke of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Party in the August 9, 2022 General Election.

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