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Echesa charged with extorting Kakamega Governor Barasa

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa. [File, Standard] 

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Mohammed Echesa has been charged with an offence of allegedly extorting Kakamega governor Fernandes Barasa

Echesa who is also the chairman of Kenya Water Towers Agency was arraigned on Friday before Kibera senior principal magistrate Monica Maroro.

He denied five charges levelled against him.

The first charge stated that on March 18,2024 while at unknown place within the country jointly with others not before court, conspired with intent to defraud by falsely accusing Barasa of kidnapping him.

The charge also accused him of demanding from Barasa a sum of Sh250 million in order to drop the accusations against the governor.

The second count read that on the same day and at unknown place within the country jointly with others not before court he conspired to defraud by falsely accusing the governor of kidnapping him and demanded from him Sh1.5 Billion.

Echesa faced a third charge which indicated that between December 15,2023 and March 18,2024 within Kakamega county and Nairobi counties, jointly with others not before court, conspired with intent to defraud by falsely pretending that he was able to give the governor a gadget he alleged to be containing inappropriate photos and video clips of him for disposal.

The count stated that Echesa extorted from Barasa the sum of Sh200 million.

He was accused in count four that on or before December 31,2023 at Sagret hotel in Nairobi with intent to defraud, obtained from the governor the sum of Sh10 million by falsely pretending that he was in a position to delete some alleged inappropriate photos and video clips of Barasa.

The gadget had allegedly been confiscated from the Muslim holy man namely Babu Yusuf Milale.

In count five, Echesa was accused that between March 18,2024 and March 26,2024 at unknown place within the country with intent to extort the governor a sum of Sh1.5 billion, he threatened Barasa that he will be accused of a felony namely kidnapping him (Echesa) if his demand was not met.

Echesa's co-accused, Joseph Lendrix Waswa, was not present in court to take a plea as his lawyers said that he had been taken ill and admitted at Nairobi hospital.

"Your honor the accused person is admitted at Nairobi hospital after he got ill and we are praying this court to give us seven days so that he gets better and come for plea taking," said his lawyers.

The prosecution side asked the case investigating officer to peruse the documents in order to ascertain its authenticity if indeed the accused is in hospital as it did not bear the date of admission.

Magistrate Maroro agreed and ordered that they be presented in court on Monday, April 25.

The prosecution and the case investigating officer Milton Mwanzi made an application to oppose Echesa being released on bond.

They claimed that the former cabinet secretary is believed to be armed which poses a threat to witnesses.

They said that Echesa had so far declined to surrender his firearm to the investigating team.

"Up to now it’s not known where his affixed residence is and he has refused to share it with the investigators. While committing the crime he was using aliases to register mobile phone contacts that were used in committing the crime and has refused to give investigating team his correct mobile details," said Mwanzi.

He added that that Echesa is believed to be a flight risk since he had refused to cooperate with the investigating teams and to surrender his passport.

Mwanzi also disclosed that potential witnesses in the case have been threatened and could be harmed due to the respondent's characters.

The investigating officer went on to add that part of the exhibit that the investigating team intends to collect are in the hands of Echesa who has refused to cooperate with them."A warrant of arrest is in force and issued by a Kakamega court on April 11,2024  against Echesa for failing to attend court over a different court matter and if he is given bond, he may still abscond coming to court," said the investigating officer.

The defense team opposed the application denying their client bond claiming that Echesa has affixed abode.

They indicated that he resides in Karen,Nairobi and  has a home in Mumias,Kakamega town. "Your honor the accused person is the chairperson of Kenya Water Towers Agency which is a state corporation and known to all the investigators. He goes to work every day,"said his lawyers.

On the claims that he was dangerous and armed,his lawyers said:

On the claims that he was dangerous and armed, his lawyers said, "On the claims that he will interfere with witnesses, it is not true because the identity of the witnesses have not been introduced in court and our client doesn’t know them."

Echesa`s lawyers said he is a family man with many responsibilities and that the court should consider hard economic times facing the country while granting him bail.

They asked the court to consider releasing him on a cash bail of Sh200 000.

Two weeks ago Echesa had been released on a Sh2 million bond by a Kibera court after he was linked to the same offense

Justice Diana Kavedza had however ordered Echesa  to present himself to Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on April 22 for questioning and recording of his statement over the matter.

Earlier on William Simiyu Matere alias Elijah had been charged in court with the offense of alleged being in ring that was extorting the governor.

He denied two charges leveled against him before Kibera Senior Principal Magistrate Ann Mwangi on March 20.

The charge sheet stated that between December 2023 and March 18 this year at an unknown place jointly with others not before court they conspired to demand the money from the governor.

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