Court: Ex-sports CS Rashid Echesa has a case to answer in Sh35.4b arms saga

Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa. [George Njunge, Standard]

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa has a case to answer in Sh 35.4 billion guns saga, the High Court has ruled.

In a judgment that is a major blow to the former CS, Justice Kanyi Kimondo overturned his acquittal and ordered him alongside four other accused persons to appear before the lower court for continuation of the hearing.

Justice Kanyi Kimondo found that Echesa, Daniel Otieno Omondi alias General Juma, Clifford Okoth Onyango alias Paul, Kennedy Oyoo Mboya and Crispin Oduor Odipo to defend themselves against forgery of tender documents charges.

“From my analysis of that further evidence, I find that the Republic had established a prima facie case against the 1st to 5th respondents for the main charge of conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to section 393 of the Penal Code as charged in Count 1; and, for making a document without authority contrary to section 357(a) of the Code as charged in Counts 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the charge sheet,” said Justice Kimondo.

Echesa had been acquitted by the magistrate’s court. Aggrieved, the Director of Public Prosecution moved to the High Court arguing that he had presented a watertight case against the five.

According to the DPP, Milimani Chief Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot should not have let Echesa, Omondi, Onyango and Mboya let off the hook, instead, should have put them on defence.

Before the lower court, Cheruiyot found that the State did not prove they had forged tender documents HC2019/2026 and intended to obtain money by false pretence.

“The 1st to 5th respondents shall all appear in person before the Chief Magistrate, Milimani Law Courts Nairobi for mention for directions on their trial on 4th March 2024 without fail,” said Justice Kimondo.

In the case, the five were accused of attempting to defraud Kozlowski Stanley Bruno and Mamdough Mostafa Amer Lofty of Sh35.4 billion by presenting to them a fake tender document from the Kenya Defence Forces.

Echesa was acquitted of impersonation after finding that the state did not prove he presented himself as President William Ruto's (then Deputy President) personal assistant to Kozlowski and Mamdough on February 13, 2020.

Omondi who was dismissed from the Army as a sergeant on December 21, 2016, was also acquitted. He too was claimed to have impersonated his bosses.

The five were acquitted on four counts of uttering false documents, obtaining money by false pretence and attempting to commit a felony.

However, Justice Kimondo found that the state had proved on three counts that Odipo intended to commit forgery.

He noted that the five were acquitted of obtaining money by false pretence since the state did not call Kozlowski and Mamdough to testify.

Charles Kiiru Mwaniki, a senior chief finance officer at the Ministry of Defence (DOD), told the court that there was a poor imitation of his signature on the tender documents.

Edmond Andayi, a senior supply chain management officer at DOD, said the tender document for the supply, delivery, installation, commissioning and maintenance of an integrated communication and security surveillance system and the non-disclosure agreement were forged.

The then Defence PS, Dr Ibrahim Mohamed, said the ministry's tender document presented to Howell Investments managing director Meja Niepodlegei did not come from them.

Echesa had been accused of duping Eco Advanced Technologies that he would help them win an arms tender DOD.

He was accused of pocketing Sh11.5 million as consultancy fees.

The documents presented to the company were allegedly used in a fake tender deal to supply the government with military surveillance equipment, guns, and ammunition.

Echesa was arrested in 2021 following a complaint by two gun dealers who claimed that he allegedly swindled them Sh11.5 million they gave him as ‘consultancy fees’.

The foreigners from the US and Poland-based Eco Advanced Technologies LLC claimed Echesa had allegedly promised to use his influence to help them secure the security tender.

In court, it had been claimed that one of the American merchants keen to win the tender to supply guns and ammunition had been hosted by the former CS at DP’s office.

Chief Inspector Miranda Nasikia, who testified for the state said that the documents bore forged signatures claimed to be those of the then Defence CS Monica Juma and Major Francis Ogolla.

The two, he said, were alleged to have signed the forged documents on behalf of the Ministry of Defense and the Department of Defense.