DPP Noordin Haji withdraws graft charges against former NHIF boss Geoffrey Mwangi
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has let loose another chief executive officer of a government parastatal facing a Sh1.1billion graft case.
Haji withdrew the Sh1.1 billion corruption charges against former National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Chief Executive Geoffrey Mwangi, claiming there was no cogent and tangible evidence to support the corruption case.
Although Mwangi was discharged under Section 87(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code which allows for more evidence to be sought, Haji said no money was lost in the award of the contentious tender to an online payment company nine years ago.
The DPP also withdrew the charges against Mr Mwangi after finding there was no sufficient evidence to sustain the trial and that the procurement for service for provision of Integrated Revenue Collection System by NHIF was done in accordance with the stipulated law and guidelines.
The contract for revenue collection was awarded to Webtribe Limited trading as Jambopay which together with its director Robert Muriithi Muna and CEO Danson Muchemi were among those arraigned in court in 2018 over the NHIF Scandal but charges were dropped in June 2020 over insufficient evidence.
The Anti-Corruption Court in Milimani allowed the DPP’s request to have the case against Mwangi dropped under section 87(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), which allows the prosecutor to withdraw the case at any time before the judgement is delivered. However, the case may be revied in future if new evidence arises.
“I find that sufficient grounds have been laid in support of the application to withdraw the charges. I therefore allow the case against Mwangi to be withdrawn,” Senior Principal Magistrate Victor Wakumile ruled.
The decision by the DPP to withdraw the charges was prompted by a letter by Mwangi’s Lawyer Migos Ogamba which invited the DPP to find that there was no evidence to charge the former CEO.
In his letter, the lawyer had urged the DPP to review the eight graft charges against Mwangi leveled against him saying that he was wrongly charged. The charges included engaging in a project without prior planning, willful failure to comply with procurement laws, false accounting and abuse of office.
“NHIF procured the services for Integrated Revenue Collection Services from Webtribe. This was done as per the procurement guildlines stipulated in the law. There is existence of a duly executed plan,” Lawyer Ogamba told the DPP while seeking to determination.
He added that the project had been approved by the NHIF board in the financial year 2013 and 2014. Further, that the tender committee members carried out their work deligently and NHIF got value for money.
“Mwangi being the acting general manager, finance and control and the accounting officer of NHIF did not make an independent decision to pay Webtribe. The tender was floated, there were bidders who bid for the tender, technical and evaluation was carried out and there was a successful winner. Had Mwangi refused this payment he would have been held in contempt,” Lawyer Ogamba stated.
The former CEO further informed the DPP that there were no funds lost at NHIF as alleged by the investigators and that Webtribe provide a service needed by NHIF. The service is still in use at NHIF to date.
Following the letter and the new evidence tabled by Mwangi before the DPP for review of the case, Magistrate Wakumile in his ruling urged the prosecutor to also review the charges against Mwangi’s 17 co-accused persons. They include Mwangi’s predecessor at NHIF Simeon Kirgotty and NHIF audit committee members Mudzo Nzili, Yussuf Ibrahim and Elly Nyaim.
Others are Ruth Sidoi (Acting Corporate Secretary), Gilbert Gathuo (Senior Business ICT Director), Irene Rono (Assistant Manager Finance Reconciliation), Yusuf Ibrahim (NHIF Board Member), Joseph Mbuvi, Pamela Marendi, Gibson Muhuhu, Jacinta Mwangi, Kennedy Wakhu, Fredrick Onyancha, Millicent Mwangi and Darius Philip Mbogo.
He, however, granted the DPP 15 days to also review charges against former CEO Kirgotty and the 16 others.
The case will be mentioned on February 10 for the DPP to give his final decision the case.