Court declines to release Waluke pending bail hearing

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Grace Wakhungu and John Waluke in court last month.

Alphonce Mung’ahu

The High Court on Wednesday declined to release Sirisia MP John Waluke on bond pending his bail application hearing on August 7.  

While issuing the directive Justice John Onyiego asked the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to file a response and gave each party three days to avail and exchange documents before the hearing date.

However, the judge also declined to release his co-accused Grace Wakhungu on medical grounds, pending the hearing of her bail application.

Justice Onyiego directed that she presents her case on August 7, during the hearing of the bail application.

 In the petition, Waluke, through his lawyers Cliff Ombeta, Evans Ondieki, Danstan Omari and Sam Nyaberi argued that the trial magistrate, Elizabeth Juma erred in law and fact by convicting him on the basis of a defective charge sheet.

The defence lawyers argued that the trial court misdirected itself as to the applicable law based on the set of facts adduced by the Prosecution to the prejudice of the MP and his co-accused.

They said that the Subordinate Court failed to appreciate that critical witnesses were never called to testify in the case.

They accused the trial court of failing to exercise independence and impartiality because the prosecution’s case was full of contradictions and inconsistencies.

He said that the Subordinate Court applied double standards since the money to pay the supplier was not sufficient and two other firms failed to service the contract. 

“The court failed to appreciate that this was inherently a commercial transaction between a willing tender and willing supplier,” said the MP.

Double standards

The  defence lawyers said that the court failed to appreciate that there were material contradictions and inconsistencies between the witnesses that ought to have been resolved in favour of the appellants.

Waluke and co-accused Grace Wakhungu were fined Sh2.1 billion fine for defrauding the National Cereals and Produce Board of Sh313 million.  

At the same time, Justice Onyiego  declined to release Erad director Grace Wakhungu. 

The judge said the issue of her poor health can be raised on August 7 during hearing of the bail application.

When the bail application was called for mention on Wednesday, July 22, Wakhungu noted that her health is deteriorating, saying she urgently needs to seek medical attention.

During the virtual proceedings, her lawyer Senior Counsel Paul Muite, pleaded with the judge to allow a government doctor to examine. 

However, the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji through Senior State Counsel Alexander Muteti opposed Wakhungu’s request saying she had raised a similar cry before the trial magistrate.

He urged the court to dismiss Muite’s pleadings as the sickness never arose during the trial or sentencing.

Wakhungu was sentenced to 69 years in jail with an option of Sh1.1 billion fine alongside her co-director Sirisia MP John Waluke, who was jailed for 67 years or a fine of Sh1 billion

Waluke and Wakhungu were convicted and jailed on June 25, over the Sh297 million maize scandal and jailed for 39 years each.

Ms Wakhungu and Mr Waluke were sentenced on June 25,  by the anti-corruption court chief magistrate Elizabeth Juma, who them guilty of corruption charges in the Sh297 million maize scandal.

After the judgement, the two had asked the court to suspend the sentence but the court rejected the application saying it had already concluded the matter.

The magistrate said any issue on the judgement could only be handled at the High Court on appeal.

Wakhungu was on June 22 sentenced to 69 years in jail with the option of Sh1 billion fine. Her business partner Sirisia MP John Waluke was handed a 67-year sentence with a Sh1 billion fine. 

The two were convicted of fraud involving Sh297 million in shady maize dealings with the NCPB.

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