Economy

Former PS Kirui freed in Sh283m cemetery scam suit

kirui

Former Local Government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Mr Kirui, a lawyer by profession, spent several months in prison having been jailed in 2018 together with former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo and two others. Mr Gakuo died after falling ill in prison in October 2018, as he waited to be freed on bond.
  • High Court judge John Onyiego ruled yesterday that the prosecution failed to prove abuse of office charges brought against Mr Kirui beyond reasonable doubt. Mr Kirui had been given the option of paying a fine of Sh1 million to escape the jail term.

Former Local Government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui walked home a free man Wednesday after the High Court quashed a three-year jail sentence imposed on him over the irregular payment of Sh283 million for a cemetery land.

Mr Kirui, a lawyer by profession, spent several months in prison having been jailed in 2018 together with former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo and two others. Mr Gakuo died after falling ill in prison in October 2018, as he waited to be freed on bond.

High Court judge John Onyiego ruled Wednesday that the prosecution failed to prove abuse of office charges brought against Mr Kirui beyond reasonable doubt. Mr Kirui had been given the option of paying a fine of Sh1 million to escape the jail term.

The judge, however, dismissed the appeal by former Nairobi City Council legal secretary Mary Ngethe who will go back to prison and continue serving her three-year sentence. Also not lucky was Alexander Musee, a former City Hall official whose appeal was equally dismissed.

Justice Onyiego dismissed claims that their sentences were excessive and said he would not interfere with the magistrate’s verdict. “I do not find any illegality in imposing a three-year jail term. I have no reason to interfere with the same considering the gravity of offence,” the judge said.

The three were out on bond of Sh5 million each, pending the determination of their appeal after spending some months in prison. Mr Kirui had been found guilty of abuse of office in connection with the purchase of cemetery land valued at Sh283 million.

Ms Ngethe and Mr Musee were found guilty of giving a misleading report purporting that the tender committee had agreed to buy the controversial 120-acre plot in Mavoko town. They also used a false valuation report to award the tender.

Chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti had ruled that Mr Gakuo wilfully failed to terminate a flawed procurement process. The magistrate said the officials acted passively and allowed embezzlement of public funds to take place on their watch.

In the court’s view, the former City Hall officials ought to have stopped the payment to Naen Rech Ltd, who received the money for the irregular purchase of the cemetery land.

But in the appeal, the trio said the court failed to cite any provisions of the procurement laws that would have given them the legal authority to terminate the procurement process.

At the same time, Justice Onyiego has directed Kilimani police boss to investigate medical reports presented by Ms Ngethe claiming she had contracted Covid-19.