11 Vihiga County officials deny stealing Sh17 million

11 Vihiga County officials before Kakamega Economic Crimes Senior Principal Magistrate Joseph Ndururi on June 13, 2024. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Eleven senior Vihiga county officials have been released on a Sh 1 million bond or Sh300,000 cash bail after pleading not guilty to conspiring to steal Sh17 million earmarked for the construction of a blood transfusion centre.

Kakamega Economic Crimes Senior Principal Magistrate Joseph Ndururi ordered the accused to notify the court whenever they want to travel outside the country.

The magistrate stressed the severity of economic crimes as grounds for a reasonable bond.

"The prosecution requested stringent bond terms but in my view, that term (stringent) means what is fair and just. Not exceeding low or exceedingly low," he said.

"They also wanted the bond denied but the only time when the bond right can be taken away is when the prosecution gives sufficient grounds to indicate compelling reasons, that has not been done," he added.

Ndururi issued an arrest warrant for one accused who failed to appear in court despite being contacted by phone.

"I also order that the prosecution supplies the accused with all documentation they intend to rely on in pressing the charges," he said.

The eleven face various counts including conspiracy to commit economic crimes, abuse of office, forgery, violations of procurement laws, theft of public property, and falsification of official documents.

The officials charged in court are Chief Officer for Medical Services Arnold Kimiyia Mamadi, Director of Procurement Godfrey Oyaro, Eugene Wandera Wamalwa (absent from court), Wesley Ng’ang’a Asubwa, Sunday Undisa Mwangi, Vincent Juma Muyera, and Laura Naliaka Kisaka.

Others were Eddy Mirera, Simon Kiana, Anastecia Njeri Kaguri, Dalton Benson Amokua, and Sava Constructions.

The accused face charges related to allegedly misappropriating Sh17 million through payments for fictitious construction work on the Blood Transfusion Centre in Vihiga.

The State lawyer Loise Osoro successfully applied for an arrest warrant for Wamalwa, the principal quantity surveyor of Vihiga County. Osoro also sought a pre-bail report to assess the eligibility of the other accused for bond but that was thrown out.

"The accused are spread across different parts of the country, posing a potential flight risk. For instance, the third accused was reachable by phone but has since turned off their phone. The report will determine their suitability for bail or bond," said Loise Osoro.

Defense attorneys Peter Samba, Hezron Abok, Moses Esiauri, and Winnie Mukhwana argued that bail is a constitutional right, and pleaded for lenient bond terms saying their clients are innocent until proven guilty.

"For example, the fifth and seventh accused are nursing mothers who have been cooperative throughout the trial process," said Abok.

"One of the accused also suffers from anxiety disorder and hypertension, warranting leniency in bond conditions," he added

The case will be mentioned on July 17 for allocating a hearing date.