The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Tuesday suffered a setback after the High Court ordered it to release seized properties belonging to former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, within the next 72 hours.
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi issued the directive in a suit Dr Kidero had filed accusing the anti-graft agency of harassing him with the intention of crippling him financially.
Justice Ong’udi also removed Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji from the case, noting that his office had no role in the proceedings as it had not been cited for any violation.
“Any searches and seized properties must be released within 72 hours,” the judge ruled, pointing to the fact that the issues raised in the suit are arguable. Dr Kidero has not disclosed what documents were seized from him.
The EACC has been investigating Dr Kidero for alleged embezzlement of public funds while at the helm of the Nairobi County government and Mumias Sugar Company.
The commission says it’s investigating properties worth Sh9 billion linked to Dr Kidero and spread across the country, mostly in land and buildings.
Dr Kidero has accused the commission of over-valuing his assets and falsely listing him as the owner of some prime properties that do not belong to him in order to make the courts part of a harassment campaign against him. He has denied ownership of Yala Towers in Nairobi’s central business district, 50 rental units in Nairobis Kilimani suburb, a house in Lavington, seven apartments, a town house in Kisumu and eight vehicles.
Dr Kidero claims that 15 of the 75 properties the EACC has linked him to are owned by other individuals.
While he admits owning 60 of the properties EACC listed as his, the former governor argues that the property is worth Sh563.9 million and not Sh9 billion as the agency claims.
EACC raided Dr Kidero's properties and establishments and companies associated with him, and the former governor says his tenants, occupants as well as patrons were harassed and intimidated. The former governor last month filed a case seeking temporary orders stopping the anti-graft body from seizing his documents and properties on the basis of a search warrant issued on September 19.
EACC, however, disputed claims of harassment arguing that valuation of the properties was part of the investigation.
Initially, EACC wrote to the Chief Land Registrar requesting documents on the parcels of land owned by Dr Kidero.
The anti-graft agency told the court that it did not know how Dr Kidero managed to obtain its letters from the Land ministry and accused him of concealing some information in those letters.
EACC, in its court papers, claimed that during its search on his premises it came across documents showing he was in the process of transferring some of his properties. It also claimed that it has sought restrictions on the properties alleged to have been transferred in a bid to smoothly conclude its investigations.
But in his suit papers, Dr Kidero alleged that some of the properties seized by EACC do not form part of the ongoing probe against him.
He says EACC detectives forcibly entered his residence in Nairobi’s Muthaiga estate where they harassed, intimidated tenants and proceeded to search and inspect the property without a court order.
They later took him to his office on Riverside Drive in Westlands Nairobi, where they mounted a search for documents believed to link him to the loss Sh213 million public funds.
He has accused detectives of entering the office by force , detaining and handcuffing security guards employed to guard the place.
He is seeking to quash the search warrants on grounds that they were obtained with an aim of fishing incriminating evidence against him and his family.
The case will be coming up on December 6 for further directions.