DPP, Anti-Corruption court clash over Mike Sonko fraud case
The Anti-Corruption Court (ACC) sitting in Nairobi has given the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Renson Ingonga the last chance to avail witnesses in the Sh357million graft case against former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and 16 others.
Chief Magistrate Eunice Nyuttu gave the DPP the last opportunity to redeem the case which has stalled for the past four years.
While adjourning the case, Ms Nyuttu took issue with the conduct of two prosecutors whom she accused of “tactifully absconding the case and employing a certain pattern of adjourning the case through short text messages (sms) and sending emails to the court and EACC lawyer”.
Ms Nyuttu said the DPP’s office has frustrated both the court and the accused who for the last four years have religiously attended court with hopes of getting justice “only to be returned home without having justice being done.”
One of the suspects Samuel Mwangi Ndung’u, a suspended employee of the Nairobi City County, tearfully recounted how her mother succumbed to illness when he could not support her financially.
“As I stand before you I am innocent so are my co-accused although we have been accused of pocketing Sh357 million which we didn’t,” Mr Ndung’u told the magistrate.
He said he had read all the 11,000 pages of witness statements and he and others have not been implicated at all.
“Every day we come with the hope of proceeding with the case. It’s four years and the prosecutors have hard-rock hearts, they care less whether we get justice or not. They seek adjournment through SMSs and letters. They do not even attend court,” Mr Ndung’u lamented.
He informed the court that he helplessly watched his mother succumb to sickness.
“I wish I had a share of the Sh357m we are accused of defrauding the public I would have assisted my late mother and supported my family which is wallowing in poverty,” Mr Ndung’u disclosed.
He urged the court to invoke its jurisdiction to protect its sanctity, safeguard its rights and protect the public interest.
Defence lawyer Assa Nyakundi for Sonko pressed for the case to be terminated for want of prosecution.
“Since the case began four years ago only four witnesses have testified. We have 37 more to be called. At this pace this case will last in court for over ten years before it is concluded,” Mr Nyakundi.
The magistrate heard Sonko and the 16 others are innocent as witnesses have exonerated them from blame.
“Mr Sonko, Ndung’u, Wambua Ndaka, Edwin Kariuki Murimi, Preston Mwandiki Miriti, and the others come to sit in court and nothing happens. Prosecutors abscond court. Terminate the case for want of prosecution,” Mr Nyakundi prayed.
Instead of terminating the case, Ms Nyuttu blasted the DPP’s office for failing to take action against the two prosecutors allocated the Sh357million graft case against Mr Sonko who is charged alongside Peter Mbugua Kariuki, Patrick Mwangangi, Ndaka, Andrew Nyasiego.
Others are Lawrence Mwangi Mukuru, Hardi Enterprises Limited, Toddy Civil Engineering Limited, Antony Mwaura Ng’ang’a, and Roses Njeri Ng’ang’a (who are husband and wife). Arbab Auto Limited, ROG Security Ltd, High Energy Petroleum Ltd, and Antony Otieno Ombok alias Jamal.
Mr Nyakundi and other defence lawyers urged the court to terminate the case and discharge all the accused as “their rights have been violated.”
In her ruling, Ms Nyuttu said the tempo and speed with which the accused were arrested and presented in court has since died out.
An EACC lawyer told the court she had summoned witnesses but the prosecutors are absent.
But the DPP has applied to withdraw the case against Antony Mwaura Ng’ang’a and his wife Rose Njeri Ng’ang’a both directors of Hardi Enterprises Ltd.
Ms Nyuttu will rule on November 23, 2023, whether to allow the DPP to terminate the case against Ng’ang’a and his wife Njeri.
All 17 face a total of 19 graft charges.