Magistrate hands Kamau reprieve in corruption case

Suspended Transport secretary Michael Kamau at a Nairobi court on June 16, 2015. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL
Suspended Transport secretary Michael Kamau at a Nairobi court on June 16, 2015. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL 

Suspended Transport secretary Michael Kamau on Tuesday got a temporary reprieve after the court deferred for a month his prosecution over allegations of abuse of office.

Senior principal magistrate Lawrence Mogambi allowed a request to put on hold the trial to allow Chief Justice Willy Mutunga appoint a three-judge Bench to hear Mr Kamau’s petition challenging the legality of his prosecution.

“Following directions that this matter be referred to the CJ to appoint a Bench, the court cannot proceed with the hearing as the CJ’s direction may affect the outcome. The proceedings will, therefore, be put on hold until he gives directions,” said Mr Mogambi.

The magistrate, however, said should the Bench to be appointed by Dr Mutunga fail to stop the proceedings, he would fix a hearing date for the trial to continue.

Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi last week ruled that Mr Kamau’s petition had raised questions on the constitutionality of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) operating without commissioners, which can only be determined by a Bench.

Although the judge declined to stop the trial at the magistrate’s court, she said the petition had also brought into scrutiny President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directives to the EACC and whether it amounted to undue interference with independent constitutional institutions.

Lady Justice Ngugi then referred the file to the CJ to appoint a Bench to hear and determine the petition.

The suspended CS argued in his petition that the EACC did not have commissioners and was not properly constituted at the time the anti-graft agency recommended his prosecution.

Mr Kamau also had issues with President Kenyatta giving direction to the EACC, saying it was illegal since the President did not have authority to dictate to any independent institution on how to do their work.

The minister faces charges of abuse of office and wilful failure to comply with procedures and guidelines relating to management of public funds. Mr Kamau is accused of committing the offence between 2007 and 2008 when he served as Roads PS.

He is charged alongside former roads chief engineer Mwangi Maingi, tender committee chairman Philip Onyango Sika, committee members Gilbert Mong’are Arasa, Raphael Weche Okubo, Sylus Wachira Gitau and Charles Oike Mubweka.

Others are former roads resident engineer Nicholas Ng’ang’a and ministerial tender committee member Kata Matemu Kithyo. Mr Kamau is said to have ignored the original design of Kamukuywa-Kaptama-Kapsokwony-Sirisia road by Engiconsult Limited at the cost of Sh33,303,600 and instead had the resident engineer redesign it unprocedurally.

They were further accused of engaging in a project without prior planning as well as awarding a tender which had the effect of quantity variation for works exceeding 15 per cent of the original contract between the government and Kundan Singh Construction Company.

They denied the offences and are out on bond. The case will be mentioned on July 22 for further directions.