Praying for a Sh1b miracle with an eye on a by-election

Jubilee politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto hold prayers at jailed MP John Waluke's Sirisia rural home. [Micah Sali, Standard]

Politicians were on their knees, heads bowed in prayer on a chilly Sunday afternoon at the home of convicted Sirisia MP John Waluke. Their mission was simple; they wanted the heavens to grant them just one miracle. One billion shillings.

They had arrived in style, riding in luxurious cars, parked strategically at Waluke’s spacious rural home.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale led the delegation of the self-proclaimed preachers of the gospel of political transformation, mainly Jubilee politicians from the Western region allied to Deputy President William Ruto.

Present were MPs Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Fred Kapondi (Mount Elgon), Mwambu Mabonga (Bumula), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), Charles Gemose (Hamisi) and Malulu Injendi (Malava).

Speeches preceded the prayers and each politician was granted an opportunity to console the jailed MP, and give political speeches that were washed down by praise and worship songs.

The leaders sought President Uhuru Kenyatta’s intervention in Waluke’s predicament to help secure his freedom.

Mabonga, a staunch Christian, read a verse from the Bible and then went ahead to preach. The MPs would later take a brief health break before leaving.

But the prayers left constituents, who thronged the compound to catch a glimpse of the proceedings, disappointed.

They had expected the leaders to raise some funds to bail out Waluke, who needs Sh1 billion to secure his freedom. The MP has, however, appealed his conviction.   

Patrick Wakhisi, a close associate of Waluke’s family, told The Standard on phone that individuals have been giving out contributions to facilitate an appeal lodged by Waluke’s team of lawyers.

“We have had some contributions trickling in but I cannot disclose who has given what; this is a private matter. Besides, I would not like to comment on a matter before court,” said Wakhisi.

According to him, family and friends were prepared to raise money that would guarantee Waluke’s freedom pending the appeal determination.

“We shall wait for the court verdict to know what to do next.”

Sources close to the family had earlier intimated that more than Sh200 million had been raised, including Sh100 million from a key political figure in the country, a close ally of the jailed MP.

Waluke’s wife Roseline could not be reached for comment by the time of going to press.

Waluke was convicted and jailed for 67 years, or pay a fine of more than Sh1 billion in June.

Both Waluke and his co-accused, Grace Wakhungu, were found guilty of corruption for the role they played in a maize import scandal that saw the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) lose Sh297 million in 2009. They filed appeals on July 2, two weeks before the window for challenging a magistrate’s court conviction and sentence closed.

Through his lawyers, Waluke has filed a 30-point document detailing what the lawyers term as inconsistencies and lack of independence in arriving at the guilty verdict.

The MP notified the National Assembly Speaker of his intention to appeal his conviction to continue holding onto his seat.

Wakhungu,79, could secure her freedom following reports that her family had managed to raise Sh800 million to bail her out.

The Standard could not independently establish whether the said funds were available, but sources intimated that the Awori family came together to mobilise the funds.