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Sh122 million graft case adjourned over NLC official's murder

NAIROBI
By Paul Ogemba | March 19th 2021
Lugari MP Ayub Savula (R) and former ICT PS Sammy Itemere at a Milimani court. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

A graft case in which slain National Lands Commission senior official was a star witness has been adjourned for a month to allow police to complete investigations into her death.

Nairobi chief magistrate Francis Andayi allowed the request by the Director of Public Prosecution to suspend the hearing until the mystery behind Jennifer Wambua’s killing is unraveled.

Andayi said that it was sad that Ms Wambua had to die when she was in the middle of her testimony in the case where Lugari MP Ayub Savula and former Ministry of Information PS Sammy Itemere are charged with stealing Sh122.3 million from the Government Advertising Agency (GAA).

“For the court, it is very sad that she died when she was in the middle of her testimony,” said Andayi, adding that the case will proceed once investigations into her killing are complete.

Andayi noted that Ms Wambua, who was the NLC deputy director for communication, had on two previous occasions failed to testify in court. She was also a witness the defence lawyers representing the accused persons were looking forward to cross-examine.

“On the first occasion, she had come to court to be cross-examined but she suddenly became ill. On the second date, she was still not available,” said Andayi.

The DPP had through State prosecutor Henry Kinyanjui requested for the adjournment of the case following Wambui's sudden death. He said the DPP is aware of the anxiety Ms Wambua’s death has caused and that he had directed Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to thoroughly probe the matter.

“She was our witness and gave her evidence before she was stood down for cross-examination. It has not been established whether her death is related to the case but once investigations are over, the DPP will review the file and ensure all culprits are brought to book,” said Kinyanjui.

The defence lawyers also said that they were shocked by her death, and warned that it is unfair for people to speculate that it was connected to the case.

“We welcome investigations so that no suspicion can be seen on our side. Her death was tragic and came at a time when we were prepared to cross-examine her,” said Kirathe Wandugi who represents Savula.

Ms Wambua's body was found dumped in Ngong forest after she went missing on Friday last week.

She was the fourth prosecution witness in the case where Savula, Itemere and Dennis Chebitwey, who was the head of GAA, were charged with conspiracy to commit a felony by allegedly stealing Sh122.3 million from the agency. 

In her evidence, Ms Wambua produced cheques, payment vouchers and invoices allegedly paid from GAA to companies owned by some of the accused for advertising services which she said were not approved. The case will be mentioned on April 22.

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