More court dates for Michael Kamau

Former Transport and Instructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU
Former Transport and Instructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU 

When Michael Kamau was appointment Transport and Instructure Cabinet Secretary on April 25, 2013, it marked a new high in his career.

It was a promotion for a man who had served as Principal Secretary in the Roads ministry for six years.

Perhaps the appointment as minister came as a reward for his achievements, which included overseeing the implementation of the multi-billion shilling Chinese-funded Nairobi-Thika highway project.

In his tenure as PS, the country registered remarkable upgrade and expansion of the road infrastructure after decades of degradation. But as destiny would have it, Mr Kamau’s moment of glory was ephemeral.

He was suspended from office barely two years later on March 28, 2015, on graft claims — marking the start of agonising windy investigations and court appearances.

And this week, the Anti-Corruption Court piled more misery on the former CS when it declined to terminate a graft case against him.

High Court Judge Hedwig Ongudi on Wednesday declined to allow Mr Kamau’s application to be acquitted — opening avenues for the State to institute fresh charges against him.

Mr Kamau was facing charges of flouting procurement procedures in the tender for construction of the Kamukuywa-Kaptama-Kapsokwony-Sirisia road. The Sh33 million tender was awarded to Engiconsult Consulting Engineers Limited. He was accused of abusing his authority by causing the road to be redesigned without involving Engiconsult, and engaging in a project without prior planning.

He denied the charges before a Magistrate’s Court and moved to the High Court seeking to quash them altogether but his case was dismissed.

The former CS appealed the decision and the Court of Appeal in July, 2017, gave him a reprieve when it ruled that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) was not properly constituted at the time it forwarded his name to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) while recommending his prosecution.

A three-judge bench comprising of Milton Makhandia, William Ouko and Kathurima M’Inoti consequently ruled that the charges against Mr Kamau were not properly before the court.

Armed with the Court of Appeal order, he returned to gthe Magistrate’s Court which discharged the charges contrary to his expectation that he would be acquitted.

When an accused in discharged, he or she still faces the possibility of being charged afresh with the same offence — a scenario Mr Kamau objected. He returned to the High Court, yet again, appealing against the decision of the Magistrate’s Court.

But on Wednesday the High Court rejected his prayers, denying him a chance to close this dark chapter in his otherwise impeccable career.

Justice Hedwig Ong’udi declined to allow Mr Kamau’s application to be acquitted, saying his appeal was allowed because EACC was not properly constituted at the time it completed the investigations and forwarded its report and recommendations to the DPP.

“It was not based on the manner the investigations were carried out or the innocence of Mr Kamau. That is why the Court of Appeal did not get into the substance of the investigations undertaken by the EACC” Justice Ong’udi said.

The judge said the case against Mr Kamau had not been heard at the time he challenged it before the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The decision by the High Court means the former CS’ trips to court are unlikely to end any time soon — extending his dark moments.

Mr Kamau’s first court appearance on the morning of June 2, 2015, was as dramatic as his exit from the public service. He looked distraught and pained by the proceedings.

In the dock with him were his two former juniors in the ministry, a former resident engineer in the Ministry of Roads, Mr Nicholas Ng’ang’a, and a member of the ministerial tender committee, Mr Kata Matemu Kithyo.

To compound his agony further, the magistrate handed him over to EACC officers who whisked him to their headquarters at Integrity Centre building to register his particulars and process his fingerprints.

Two hours later they led him back to the court to face the charges. This was unbearable for a man who had been used to trappings of power.

The DPP has opposed his application for acquittal, an indication that the court battle will be long-drawn.