Not long ago, James Mulewa had a driver, a secretary and a hotline. He was, after all, the managing director of the Kenya Ports Authority.
In August 2008, Mr Mulewa had taken over as the acting MD of the parastatal, rising to the helm of a company with a turnover of Sh18.7 billion.
For him, this was a dream job having joined the corporation in 1981 as a trainee accountant. Today, broke and spending time in the High Court corridors over a corruption case, Mr Mulewa is sneak-preview of what happens, when the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (Kacc) descends on you.
For 27 years, Mulewa, who graduated in 1980 from the University of Nairobi, must have eyed the MD’s position: it had good perks, and was one of the most coveted parastatals in the country. It also came with a gross salary of Sh1,050,000 a month.
Like his predecessor, Abdalla Mwaruwa, who was fired from his position, Mulewa left through the same door — and in the same style.
But that was until officials of Kacc came knocking at his door, perused his bank accounts and properties and left with a court case that has reduced Mulewa to a near pauper. The High Court, in a case filed by Kacc, has not only frozen his accounts with more than Sh25 million but has also blocked him dealing in his three parcels of land.
Mulewa is back at the Mombasa courts. In a new affidavit, he says that he survives on tokens from his relatives and well wishers since he cannot access his millions of Shillings, which have been frozen by the court.
The anti-graft agency questioned his source of wealth, which it claimed he acquired irregularly. That is why he was stopped from dealing in any way with the two accounts held at Fina and Prime banks after the High Court in Mombasa issued orders in favour of Kacc more than a month ago. The account at Fina Bank has Sh15,783,388, while the one at Prime Bank has Sh10 million.
High Court judge Justice Mohammed Ibrahim had earlier declined to lift an order freezing the accounts, saying that Kacc would lose the benefit acquired. He also said by lifting the order, he would interfere with the discretion of his colleague Mr Justice Jackton Ojwang’ who issued the initial orders.
Mr Mulewa had argued that the order was completely unlimited in scope and gave no exemption to access the money for ordinary expenses or legal fees. The defendant was also blocked from dealing with three parcels of land after it emerged that he could have been obtained them through corrupt practices too. However, last week, Mr Mulewa filed a suit under certificate of urgency, where he wanted the court to release Sh500,000 which he claims is being illegally held by the agency.
He also wanted the court to direct Kacc to immediately release all his documents and property, which he claims were illegally seized, following a search warrant issued by the Kibera magistrate’s court in 2010.
Through the Ahmednasir, Abdikadir and Company law firm, Mr Mulewa argued that Kacc did not accord him a reasonable opportunity to explain the alleged disproportion between the assets concerned and his known legitimate source of income as required by the law. He also says that he had been prejudiced by the actions of Kacc, as his constitutional right to a fair hearing, trial, privacy and protection of private property had been contravened. In addition he said that he is unable to put up a defence in this case due to the continued illegal seizure of documents that are relevant to the matter.
How Mulewa’s world changed after he was appointed to the KPA position is now a matter that will be dealt with by the court. In the main suit, the commission argues that during his tenure at the port, Mr Mulewa engaged in corruption and acquired properties, which include unexplained immovable assets valued at Sh17 million and unexplained amounts of cash inflow of Sh63,683,794, totalling to Sh80,683,794.
The commission says that when he was appointed MD, he earned a gross salary of Sh1,050,000 for the two years he occupied the position but continued to receive large sums of money, which was more than his pay, until May 20, last year when he was sacked.
Mr Justice Ojwang’ had earlier extended the order freezing the accounts and directed that the matter be heard on June 30.