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DPP Haji appeals Sonko acquittal in Sh20m corruption case

 Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (centre) outside Milimani Law Courts, July 18, 2022. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko's freedom might be short-lived after the Director of Public Prosecution appealed his acquittal in the Sh20million corruption case.

DPP Noordin Haji argues that anti-corruption chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti made a mistake in acquitting Sonko and his co-accused Anthony Otieno Ombok by relying on an outdated charge sheet to find that the two were innocent.

"The magistrate made a mistake in relying on extraneous reasons to acquit the two. He failed to deliver substantive justice and relied on technicalities instead of looking at the totality of the case to find that Sonko had a case to answer," said the DPP.

The State prosecutor wants the High Court to overturn Sonko's acquittal and order that he be taken back to the magistrate's court and put on his defence.

Sonko and Ombok were acquitted on Wednesday last week after the magistrate found that the charge sheet was defective and that the evidence submitted by the DPP was not sufficient to prove the allegations.

According to Ogoti, the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case since none of the 19 witnesses proved that the ex-governor was paid kickbacks in exchange of contracts to some companies including the one owned by his co-accused.

But the DPP in his appealed filed on Friday last week, through his assistant Christine Nanjala, argued that the magistrate grossly misdirected himself by relying on the old charge sheet filed in January 2020 which had been amended and substituted by another one in September 2020.

"The magistrate misapplied the law by holding that there was a defective charge sheet while he had already admitted the amended charge sheet filed on September 7, 2020. He did not reject the charge sheet when it was filed and accepted it as a good charge sheet," said Nanjala.

The DPP argued further that the magistrate erred by failing to make a finding on each of the 13 counts Sonko was facing and ended up making a decision not backed up by any reasoning.

Nanjala claimed that the magistrate failed to analyse the evidence adduced by the 19 prosecution witnesses thereby making an erroneous finding.

Evidence on record

"He disregarded the evidence on record and failed to make a finding whether we had established a case. The magistrate also failed to consider the submissions by the prosecution which makes his findings and decision to acquit the accused a miscarriage of justice." Sonko was facing the charges alongside Ombok and his company Rog Security Limted over allegations of receiving Sh20 million kickbacks from companies that traded with Nairobi City County during his tenure as governor.

The charged ranged from money laundering, conspiracy to commit and offence of corruption, engaging in conflict of interest and acquisition of proceeds of crime.

Ogoti while acquitting them ruled that there were facts the prosecution needed to bring out to prove their case but they failed to do so.

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