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DPP Noordin Haji asks court to lock out James Orengo from Sospeter Ojaamong's graft case

By Kamau Muthoni | May 27th 2021
The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji. [File, Standard]

The Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji now wants to lock out Siaya Senator James Orengo from representing Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong'.

Mr Haji in an application filed before High Court judge James Wakiaga argues that Orengo’s presence in the graft case is in conflict with his oversight role as a Senator.

The DPP filed the application through senior assistant DPP Alexander Muteti.

He is of the view that the court should intervene and tame lawmakers who are lawyers from representing suspects of crime such as graft and abuse of office.

“The High Court, being the First Port of call in Constitutional interpretation should pronounce itself unequivocally on this matter to tame what is now an emerging culture in the country where State Officers such as the respondent have been appearing and representing persons charged with matters that touch on public interest issues including but not limited to Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Cases to the detriment of the Public who have bestowed upon them the trust,” he argues.

In his application, the DPP has named lawmakers James Orengo, Okong’o Omogeni, Irungu Kang’ata, Kipchumba Murkomen, Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, Daniel Maanzo, and Peter Kaluma as some of the lawyers who have been acting for suspects in court while still over-sighting the same people in Parliament.

“The respondent (Senator James Orengo) is the elected senator of Siaya County thus a full-time State Officer who is required in law not to engage in any other gainful employment. Although the Respondent Senior counsel is entitled to practice law such practice should not conflict with the public interest that he is under duty to protect,” he continues.

Orengo is representing the Busia Governor in a Sh8 million graft case.

 Mombasa High Court Judge Eric Ogolla had made a ruling barring State Officers from representing other State Officers accused of economic crimes and related crimes last month because they oversight them.

In his ruling, Justice Ogolla noted that participation of state officers as counsel for other state officers accused of corruption would be in conflict with their statutory and Constitutional duty.

Justice Ogolla was ruling in an application filed by the DPP seeking to bar persons holding state office from appearing for suspects or accused persons charged with corruption.

This comes after High Court in Mombasa on April 27 cited a conflict of interest in an 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.

Haji now wants the case before Justice Wakiaga settled urgently, arguing that it will have a bearing on how the graft case will proceed. 

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