Ferdinand Waititu, co-accused to be charged afresh in Sh588m graft case

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu's woes have escalated after a magistrate ordered that he be charged afresh in a Sh588 million corruption case.

Anti-corruption court chief magistrate Thomas Nzyoki directed the ex-governor, his wife Susan Wangari, and their nine co-accused to be charged again after allowing an application by the prosecution that sought to add more charges and introduce new evidence.

“In the interest of justice, I find that the application by the Director of Public Prosecutions has merit and the court allows it. The matter shall proceed on November 16 when all the accused persons will take plea to the fresh charges,” ruled Nzyoki.

The magistrate also allowed an application to recall the first witness who had already testified in the case to be cross-examined again after the accused plead to the new charge.

The DPP had made the application to amend the charge sheet and introduce a new charge of dealing in stolen public property against Waititu.

Waititu, his wife, former County Chief Officer for Roads Luka Mwangi, six county employees, businessman Charles Chege and his wife Beth Wangeci are facing charges of money laundering in relation to irregular award of Sh588 million contracts for road repairs.

Waititu and his wife were accused of receiving a total of Sh51 million through their companies, Saika Two Estate Developers Ltd and Benvenue Delta Hotel, where it was alleged that they engaged in a conflict of interest and dealing with suspect property.

According to the prosecution, the plot to defraud the county government of Kiambu was hatched by Chege and his wife through their company Testimony Enterprises.

The charge sheet stated that the scandal started on February 26, 2018, when Chege and his wife presented false degree certificates to the Kiambu county tender committee to prove their company was capable of undertaking the roads construction work.

It is alleged that on February 26, 2018, they submitted the bid to Kiambu County’s tender committee which had Zacharia Mbugua, Joyce Ngina, Simon Kang’ethe, Anslem Wanjiku, and Samuel Muigai as members.

The committee sat on March 5, 2018 and approved the company’s bid without subjecting it to scrutiny which led to them being charged with willful failure to comply with the law relating to procurement.

According to the charge sheet, the five illegally introduced new criteria for evaluating the tender for upgrading various roads to favour Testimony Enterprises.

On March 16, 2018, the prosecution alleged that the county’s minister for roads and transport used his office to approve and confer a benefit of Sh588,198,328 to Testimony Enterprises by awarding the contract to upgrade the roads when the company had no such capacity.

The charges stated that between May 2018 and October 2018, the company fraudulently received Sh147.2 million from the Kiambu county government and channeled a portion of the proceeds to Waititu and his wife through their companies Saika Two Estates Ltd and Benvenue Delta Hotel.

The prosecution’s case is that Waititu and his wife received part of the money as kickbacks while knowing that they were proceeds of crime and used Sh6 million from the proceeds to purchase Delta Hotel to disguise the source of funds.