Bad year for DPP as high-profile corruption cases collapse

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji during the launch of the National Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Risks Assessment Report 2021 on July 27, 2022. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

It was a bad year for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji as many graft cases of high-profile persons associated with President William Ruto were either quashed or withdrawn.

The cases started dropping soon after Dr Ruto was sworn into office and the Law Society of Kenya was among the bodies that asked Mr Haji to explain why he was applying to withdraw the cases.

Among high-profile persons whose cases were dropped is Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Cabinet secretary Aisha Jumwa and former Kenya Power managing director Ben Chumo.

Courts also quashed charges against former Kenya Pipeline Company bosses including managing director Joe Sang as well as graft charges against former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko.

“The DPP must give an explanation, failure to which we will review evidence in the cases and proceed with a private prosecution. The DPP ought to resubmit the investigating files and seal the gaps but not withdraw cases,” LSK president Eric Theuri said in a statement.

Mr Theuri said Kenyans’ trust and confidence in Mr Haji would be eroded should he fail to disclose the reasons for withdrawing the cases.

But the DPP defended his office saying he had done well in the prosecution of some cases and failed in others.

Mr Gachagua’s charges were dropped after Mr Haji applied to withdraw the case and the investigating officer admitted that he was under pressure from his bosses to charge the then Mathira MP. He was facing Sh7.3 billion corruption charges and the DP was pained by the manner he was arrested and paraded in court to plead to the charges.

Mr Haji applied to withdraw the charges under section 87A of the criminal procedure code saying investigations into the matter were not complete. Investigating officer Obadiah Kuria told anti-corruption court magistrate Victor Wakumile that there are some areas in the case that were not adequately covered because he was not given sufficient time to complete the probe.

Among the charges is that he and Rapid Medical Suppliers Ltd acquired Sh6 million from Nyeri County on December 29, 2014, for the supply of dialysis machines to Nyeri Provincial General Hospital.

He is also alleged to have received Sh104 million from Bungoma County suspected to be proceeds of crime between January 2015 and June 2019.

The charges against Dr Chumo and 10 others were equally dropped after police failed to conduct further investigations to strengthen areas identified as too weak to secure a conviction.

Mr Haji said he wrote to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on four occasions, pointing out inconsistencies and areas that needed watertight evidence.

But the DCI failed to respond to the letters leaving him with no other option but to drop the case.

Further, the DPP said the investigating officer had not served the accused persons with his witness statement and in the circumstances, he chose to withdraw the case.

Thirty-four witnesses had testified in the case and chief magistrate Felix Kombo allowed the withdrawal of the matter under section 87(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Dr Chumo was charged in 2018 together with his successor Ken Tarus, Beatrice Meso, KP Mungai, Joshua Mutua, Abubakar Swaleh, Samuel Ndirangu, Stanley Mutwiri, Benson Muriithi, Peter Mwicigi and John Ombui, over failure to comply with procurement laws, among other claims in the purchase of transformers worth Sh400 million.

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