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Kisumu County Assembly officials in Sh17.4m fraud case set free

From Left: Kisumu County Assembly’s suspended Majority Leader Samuel Ong’ow, Minority Whip Edwin Anayo, former Clerk Nelco Sagwe and former Speaker Anne Adul in court during the ruling of their case where they were charged with fraud. [Photo: Maureen Odiwuor/Standard]

Four former Kisumu County officials among them ousted Speaker Anne Adul have been acquitted of fraud.

The former County Assembly Public Service Board officials were found not guilty of embezzling Sh17.4 million. Ms Adul, former clerk Nelco Sagwe, suspended Majority Leader Samuel Ong’ow and Minority Whip Edwin Anayo were facing charges of failing to comply with the procurement laws.

They were accused of single sourcing a firm, Factor Connect, to lead assembly members’ trips to Israel, Singapore and China.

Principal Magistrate Thomas Obutu faulted the evidence by the prosecution and termed it contradictory and lacking in flow. The evidence was presented by investigation officer Caren Githinji, who was the only prosecution witness.

“The case is full of gaps. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution. I can’t call upon the defence to fill these gaps. I, therefore, acquit all the accused persons,” Mr Obutu said.

He said there was no single evidence to show how the four met to conspire to commit a fraud.

“In any case, the investigating officer was not sure where and how the four met to conspire the fraud. The officer’s case is that she was not aware where the conspiracy was hatched,” said the magistrate.

On a second count Adul, her husband Elijah, Factor Connect and its directors Samuel Odera and Mildred Omondi had been charged with conspiring to defraud the county government Sh17.4 million between April and July 2014, for the three international trips.

Obutu said the prosecution witnesses were in agreement the tendering was done correctly.

He said due process was followed and payments given to Factor Connect after rendering services by taking the assembly members on the three trips.

He also pointed out that the members were satisfied with the services rendered hence none complained.

“Tendering was correctly done. Another firm, Pan Africa, was considered but was found to be more expensive. Payment to Factor Connect cannot amount to a fraud since they had a contract and had provided services,” Obutu said.

He added: “It is, however, my finding that the term expensive is comparative. The investigating officer was duty-bound to tag the same at a particular price.”

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