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Economy

Uhuru hits out at lenient bail terms for graft suspects



Chief Justice David Maraga. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Chief Justice David Maraga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

President Uhuru Kenyatta accused the Judiciary of releasing suspects charged with multi-billion shilling corruption offences on lenient bail terms.

Mr Kenyatta said light bail conditions as well use of court injunctions will dim the fight against corruption.

Dozens of Kenyan government officials and business people have appeared in court since May on charges relating to the theft of billions of shillings from public coffers in a new drive to tackle widespread graft.

“Kenyans’ spirits are dampened when we witness suspects released on ridiculously low bail terms, interference in legislative processes and the use of the court process to delay justice,” Mr Kenyatta said yesterday.

This week top officials of Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) and National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) were charged for abuse of office and economic crimes that led to the loss of billions of shillings from the two institutions.

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They all pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on a cash bail of Sh2 million each — a figure that nearly matches their monthly wages.

Joe Sang, managing director of KPC, and five of his colleagues were charged with abuse of office in connection with the loss of funds in the construction of a fuel jetty in Kisumu worth Sh1.96 billion, a figure the prosecution said exceeded the original budget.

Geoffrey Mwangi, CEO of the NHIF, his predecessor and 16 other officials were also charged with abuse of office and irregular award and extension of a contract in which Sh1.1 billion was lost.

In July, Kenya Power CEO Ken Tarus alongside his predecessor, Ben Chumo, and a number of other senior managers were charged with conspiring to commit an economic crime and abuse of office.

They were released on Sh1 million cash bail each.

“I am again calling for the Judiciary to ensure that its procedures are not used to protect impunity,” said President Kenyatta.

“Through the efforts of our investigative agencies and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, individuals who may have thought they were untouchable are now facing the full force of the law.”

Mr Kenyatta’s administration was accused of being slow to pursue top officials liked to graft in his first term that ended last year.

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