DPP fights bid to drop Sh8m graft case against Ojaamong

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020 00:00 |
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong in court. Photo/PD/File

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has urged the High Court to dismiss an application by Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong and others seeking to have their ongoing Sh8 million graft declared a mistrial.

The governor and his co-accused say the application is a tactic to delay their trial before Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti, which they desperately seek to avoid at all costs due to their inability to mount any credible defense.

“The Prosecution avers that this petition is res judicata and fits the bill for dismissal on that basis.

It is nothing more than an abuse of the process of the court, ”reads court papers.

Last week, the High Court temporarily stayed the further prosecution of the accused persons at the lower court pending the hearing of the application seeking to have the case declared a mistrial and the charges against the county boss and eight others terminated.

The move came after Ojaamong, through his lawyer James Orengo, filed a petition saying he had suffered a mistrial when the prosecution lawyers threatened and intimidated witnessed to fix him.

In his application, the county boss says prosecution team, led by Special prosecutor Taib Ali Taib has frustrated the fair hearing of the case by threatening and intimidating his witnesses.  

“We now apply that the court to find and declare a mistrial and terminate proceedings in the interest of justice and to redress the misconduct both by the court and prosecution that actively violate the accused persons individual and collective constitution rights,” said  Orengo.  

However, the DPP has denied the grounds raised by the governor and his co- accused, saying there is no misconduct at all, nor any procedural error that has occurred in the proceedings to warrant a mistrial in the case.

Through State Counsel Grace Murungi, appearing for the Prosecution, the court has been told that the DPP has not concealed any documentary or any other evidence to the detriment of the accused persons including specific procurement plans and budgets relevant to the case as alleged by the county Chief.

Takes issue

According to the DPP, the suspects have litigated on the same matters and issues they are raising again, a clear abuse of the process of the law.

“That the rulings delivered by both the Trial court and the various High Courts that were involved are matters that may be challenged by way of appeal or review or through the process provided for under the law but are not matters that can be addressed through a constitutional petition,” argues DPP

Meanwhile, the Prosecution further took issue with the defence, saying the petitioners are recording the proceedings for the consumption of their witnesses, for purposes of witness coaching, which they argue is irregular and unlawful.

Ojaamong was charged in July, 2018 alongside his Finance Executive Bernard Yaite, Chief Finance Officer Leonard Obimbira and Head of Treasury Accounting Samuel Ombui. 

They have  since been put on their defence after they were found with a case to answer in May.

Ogoti ruled that the Prosecution has established its case against the suspects. Prosecution called  20 witnesses and produced  50 documents to support its claim that Ojaamong awarded a tender to a ghost company.  

Ojaamong and his nine co-accused are charged with engaging in a scheme to defraud the Busia County government of the said amount between March and September 2014.

More on News