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Elected leaders barred from representing public officers charged with corruption

NATIONAL
By Betty Njeru | April 27th 2021

Justice Eric Ogolla at Mombasa High Court. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Elected leaders or State officers cannot represent or appear for public officers accused of corruption, the High Court has ruled.

The High Court in Mombasa on Tuesday, April 27 cited a conflict of interest in oversight role as the reason for barring persons holding elective positions from legally representing civil servant graft suspects.

“Such participation by State officers as counsels for accused persons in such proceedings would be in conflict with their statutory and Constitutional duty,” noted Justice Eric Ogolla.

The judge’s ruling is a major win for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), which sought to have lawyers holding public offices barred from acting on behalf of government agency heads accused of graft.

“Justice Eric Ogolla, in this regard, barred Siaya Senator James Orengo and any other State officer from appearing for former Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Daniel Manduku in a graft case,” ODPP tweeted on Tuesday.

The former KPA MD is accused of impropriety in the award of a Sh244.8 million tender.

Some of the State officers who have previously represented public officers in various cases include Senators James Orengo, Kipchumba Murkomen and Mutula Kilonzo Jr.

In November 2020, while outlining some of the challenges he faced in the fight against corruption, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji said top of his list was that State officials charged with corruption still remain in office.

In 2019, Haji and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) signalled that they would persuade judges to enforce laws ordering top officials charged with corruption to vacate office for the entire duration of their cases.

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