By RACHEAL MBURU, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29- Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, his wife Susan Wangari and 8 others were on Monday sent back to police cells, after denying corruption-related charges in the Sh588 million scandal.
Anti-Corruption Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi said he will issue the ruling on their bail application on Tuesday morning.
Waititu denied charges ranging from engaging in a fraud, conflict of interest, dealing with suspect property, money laundering and abuse of office.
He was represented by lawyer Prof. Tom Ojienda who argued that there was no evidence that tax-payers’ money was lost, saying the issue was largely on how the tender was awarded.
He further submitted that all the accused persons were legally entitled to bail, and even poked holes in a ruling issued recently by Justice Mumbi Ngugi that governors charged with economic crimes vacate office during the duration of their trial.
He said, “the deputy governor will not function if the Governor stays away from the office.”
“Any action limiting the functioning of the duty of office of the Governor would necessarily interfere with the people of Kiambu. According to the County Government Act, there are functions that the deputy governor cannot exercise unless delegated by the Governor. That is why Nairobi County has been functioning well without a deputy governor.”
Waititu is charged alongside his wife Susan Wangari who also denied corruption-related charges.
He further submitted that a finding on integrity cannot be held against a person until a trial is concluded.
“What if they were found innocent of those unfortunate charges?” he posed. “You cannot look at the person on the face and say this one is guilty and cannot sit in the office.”
The Director of Public Prosecutions is not opposed to their release on bail, but with strict conditions.
In the case of Waititu, the DPP wants him ordered to surrender his travel documents and stay away from office.
“But just like other officers charged, he should not go back to enjoy the trappings of power and privileges the office comes with,” prosecutor Alexander Muteti submitted.
Others facing charges alongside Waititu are procurement officials as well as a Road Engineer in the county and two directors of a company that was awarded a tender to construct roads in the county and later paid Waititu Sh25 million, which the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji said was a bribe.
He noted that there will be no “constitutional paralysis” if the governor stays out office.
“It will be the right thing to do. A deputy governor is not a lame duck,” the prosecutor asserted.
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