Former Chief Registrar of Judiciary Gladys Boss Shollei and seven other persons were Monday freed by a Nairobi court over the purchase of a Sh310 million residential house for the Chief Justice from previous Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko wrote to Senior Principal Magistrate Felix Kombo, withdrawing the charges of graft, failing to comply with procurement laws and abuse of office against Ms Shollei and seven others.
They had also been accused of failing to comply with procurement laws on tenders for the construction of pre-fabricated court buildings in Mavoko, Runyenjes and Tawa and Garsen.
The DPP’s move was informed by a recent Court of Appeal decision, which stated that cases brought by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) between May 2015 and June 2016, when the anti-graft body had no commissioners, were illegal.
The ruling stated that in the absence of the commissioners, the secretariat could not and cannot purport to execute and perform the core functions of the EACC as the agency was not properly constituted.
Ms Shollei, now the Uasin Gishu Woman representative, had been charged together with her former deputy Kakai Kissinger, former director of supply chain management Martin Otieno Okwata, former director of finance Benedict Abonyo Omollo and tender committee members Wycliffe Wanga Ombunde, Nicholas Muturi Okemwa, Nicholas Mbeba and Thomas Oloo Atak.
The Judiciary bought the Runda property from Mr Muthama and has remained vacant since its purchase in April 2013 due to integrity issues. The property was bought using an incomplete valuation report, acquired from the highest bidder, but without furnishings.
The deal was closed before accessing details like the status of the lease, charges on the property and physical assessment of the home.
The charges stated that between April 16 and 30, 2013, being the accounting officer of the Judiciary, Mrs Shollei used her office to improperly confer a benefit to the company by executing a contract and approving Sh310 million for the purchase of the CJ’s residence, without complying with the public procurement and financial procedures.
The second count states that between October 5, 2012 and June 3, 2013, the accused persons failed to comply with the law relating to management of funds by not ensuring that the purchase of the house was done in an effective, efficient, economical and transparent manner.
They were also facing charges of engaging in a project without prior planning.
The cases were being heard by two different magistrates but in one court, witnesses had testified but none implicated the accused persons.
On the pre-fabricated court houses, they were accused of offering the tender to Timsales Limited, in breach of procurement laws. They were accused of failing to seek approval from the tender committee to conduct pre-contract negotiations.
They were also accused varying terms and conditions of a contract without approval from the tender committee as well as abuse of office.
An argument arose as to which section of the criminal procedure code, should be used in withdrawing the charges. The accused persons preferred section 210 of the CPC, whereas the DPP wanted to withdraw the charges under section 87a.
Mr Kombo accepted the charges to withdrawn under section 87a.