Former Youth Principal Secretary Lilian Omollo on Tuesday suffered a blow after her plea to be discharged over the loss of millions at National Youth Service (NYS) on grounds that courts have no authority to handle the cases after the lapse of more than two years, was dismissed.
Two magistrates handling separate cases in which she and other former senior government officials and traders are facing multiple charges over the loss of funds at the state agency dismissed claims that courts have no authority to proceed with the cases since the statutory timelines have since lapsed.
Senior principal magistrate Eunice Nyutu rejected the application that the court’s jurisdiction has lapsed after the expiry of two years. A second application, raising similar issues was dismissed by Lucas Onyina.
Ms Omollo was charged on May 29, 2018, together with other senior government officials including former NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai and suppliers. They denied various counts including misuse of office, conspiracy to commit felony and money laundering.
“The jurisdiction of this court has been extinguished by effluxion of statutory timelines for determination of the case. This court has ceased to have jurisdiction to hear and determine the charges,” she submitted last year.
In his submission, the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji through senior principal prosecution counsel Kanana Kimiri said they were not to be blamed for the long delay.
“Your Honour, we further submit that the lapse of time in the conclusion of the criminal charges was neither occasioned by the Prosecution nor the Court but by force majeure, being the unforeseen effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that led to closure of courts and limitation of movement,” Ms Kimiri said.
Section 62(1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act states that a public officer or state officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended at half pay with effect from the date of the charge until the conclusion of the case. The law further says the case shall be determined within 24 months.
The former PS had also argued that they acted in good faith while discharging their mandate but the court said the accused persons do not enjoy immunity from acts that amount to a crime and the claim that they acted in good faith can only be raised in defence hearing.
That court further said the issues in question are criminal in nature and thus cannot be determined by EACC because they are not matters of ethics of public officers.