Former PS wants Sh167m case dropped over delays
Former Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lilian Omollo yesterday asked the court to drop the corruption charges against her.
In a fresh application lodged at the Anti-Corruption Court, Omollo wants the case terminated for dragging in court for more than two years.
Former PS and 36 other individuals accused of defrauding the National Youth Service over Sh167 million were first arraigned in court in May 2018, contrary to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, which stipulates that cases must be dispensed with within 24 months.
The case, which stalled following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, as the courtroom could not accommodate all the 37 suspects owing to the social distancing rules, is set to resume on May 17, 2022.
Omollo, together with other 30 public officers including former NYS Director General Richard Ndubai wants the case terminated.
“We raise a preliminary objection against the charges and criminal proceedings against the accused be struck out and or be dismissed,” reads the court papers filed by the former PS and her co-accused.
Through lawyer Justin Omollo, the accused informed trial magistrate Lucas Onyina that the court has no authority to handle the case, since the statutory timelines have lapsed.
“The jurisdiction of this court has been extinguished by effluxion of statutory timelines for determination of the case.
This court has ceased to have jurisdiction to hear and determine the charges,” the lawyer says.
Omollo cites his application on Section 62(1) of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act on “suspension (of a public officer), if charged with corruption or economic crime”.
It provides thus: “A public or State officer charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended, at half pay, with effect from the date of the charge until the conclusion of the case: Provided that the case shall be determined within 24 months.”
Case involves several companies that include Firstling Limited, Kunjiwa Enterprises and Ameritrade Limited, which pocketed Sh167,715,700 from the youth fund for goods not delivered.
The lawyer argues that being public officers, his clients are absolutely immune from personal liability for any action, claim or demand over the alleged loss of funds at NYS.
He cites three laws that protect public officers from any liability either civil or criminal for anything done in good faith in the performance of their duties.
“This court lacks the powers to take cognizance of, hear and determine any question of absence of good faith on the part of the accused in the discharge of their duties as public officers.
The question can only be determined by the responsible commission designated for such purpose by section 3 of the Public Officer Ethics Act No 4 of 2003,” says the advocate.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has been granted five days to file their responses in the application before hearing of the objection on December 9.
Omollo and Ndubai have other two cases pending before different courts relating to payment of Sh60,598,800 to three companies including Arkroad Holding Limited, Ersatz Enterprises and Kalabash Road Supplies and Sh226.9 million to companies relating to Ngirita’s family, the main suspects in the NYS scandal.
They are alleged to have committed the offences on diverse dates between April 6, 2016 and May 13, 2017.
They face charges ranging from conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office, willful failure to comply with procurement rules, neglect of official duty, fraudulent payments to companies that did not supply goods, making false documents and breach of public trust.