DPP Renson Ingonga on the spot over delays in Mike Sonko’s graft case
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Renson Ingonga is on the spot following the stalling of a Sh356 million graft case against former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.
Milimani anti-corruption court chief magistrate Ms Eunice Nyutu, while declining to terminate the case against the former county boss and 16 others, accused the prosecution of “abandoning the case.”
She further said the actions by the prosecution had left the court in a very embarrassing position.
The magistrate directed her ruling be placed before the National Council of Administration of Justice for a dialogue over the prosecution of this case.
Ms Nyuttu also directed her ruling be placed before Mr Ingonga for action.
The magistrate said public prosecutors are required to conduct cases “in a manner that promotes the public interest and public good”.
She said sabotaging and abandoning of cases by prosecutors must not be condoned and that they should be held accountable.
Concurring with a judgment of Justice Nixon Sifuna, Ms Nyuttu said parliament and the DPP are called upon must enact and formulate rules which “hold prosecutors accountable for negligence and abandoning of cases midway”.
She said it is unfortunate the prosecution has chosen to get an adjournment of the Sonko case through “sheer arm twisting the court”.
As a result of the failure by prosecutor Ms Annette Wagia to show up in court defence lawyers Dr John Khaminwa and Assa Nyakundi applied to have the Sh356m graft case terminated under Section 24 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) for the failure of the complainant to appear in court to tender evidence.
Ms Nyuttu declined the request.
“The prosecutor is a complainant in all the criminal hearings and when the prosecutor fails to turn up in court then there is no case against the accused persons,” she ruled.
However, she noted that the case against Sonko and 16 others is a public interest case and “the sins of the prosecutor and the DPP cannot be visited on the Public to warrant the interference of justice.”
She added: “It is for these reasons I decline to dismiss the case for want of prosecution.”
On November 8, 2023, the DPP through deputy director Ms Grace Murungi wrote to Ms Nyuttu seeking to have the case adjourned to enable him to prosecute an application to have the “Sh356m graft case against Sonko withdrawn under Section 87 (a) of the CPC”.
Ms Murungi stated in the letter: “This will in essence save judicial time as some of the witnesses in the case would not be required to be called to testify in the case.”
In the case, Sonko and 16 others face economic crimes, abuse of office, unlawful acquisition of property, and irregular payments that saw the county lose Sh356 million.
The accused have denied the charges and are out on a cash bail of Sh15 million.
Ms Nyuttu reluctantly adjourned the case to November 15, 2023, to enable the DPP to give directions in the case.