Waluke, Wakhungu out on bail pending appeal

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 00:00 |
Sirisia MP John Waluke (right) and co-accused Grace Wakhungu who were sentenced over a Sh297 million maize scandal. Photo/PD/FILE

Sirisia MP John Waluke was yesterday released on Sh10 million cash bail while his co-convict Grace Wakhungu was granted Sh20 million bail pending the appeal against the lower court’s decision. 

In his ruling, Justice John Onyiengo said the appeal by the convicts who have been in prison for the last three months have a high chance of success following their arguments that the sentences imposed on them are illegal. 

The legislator is serving a 37-year sentence at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison while Wakhungu, 80, currently at the Lang’ata Women Prison is serving a 39-year sentence after they were unable to raise a combined fine of Sh2 billion imposed on them by Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Juma of Milimani Anti-Corruption Court on June 22.

Breach of contract

“To balance the interest of the accused with that of public interest, it’s the duty of the court to uphold the rights of the accused person,” said the judge.

The judge however directed the two to deposit their traveling documents in court, saying they will not be allowed to travel out of the country until their appeal is determined.

 “I’m persuaded that applicants (Waluke and Wakhungu) have an arguable appeal,” said Onyiego.

In his ruling, Onyiego said that applicants had raised various issues that they were directors of the third accused, which is the company that sued National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) for breach of contract, leading to the payment of Sh256 million, a sum that got them in trouble.

Waluke had also argued that he is a MP and he might lose his seat if he is not granted bail.

But in the ruling, the judge said there is no law that provides for special treatment of certain categories of people. “What matters is equal treatment regardless of social status,” he said.

“I am not convinced that Waluke being aged 59 is sufficient grounds to grant bail. At age 59 he is an active person in my view,” said Onyiego

With regards to his arguments that he was too old to stay in prison as well as the claim that he was diabetic the judge dismissed both arguments saying they have no legal basis.

According to Onyiengo, being a diabetic was not sufficient reason to warrant being released on bail since prisons have adequate facilities to handle such patients.

He was categorical that there is no evidence adduced that a prison facility is not capable of handling such illnesses. 

Waluke and Wakhungu were convicted of fraud involving Sh313 million in shady maize dealings with the NCPB.   

Wakhungu had initially been sentenced to 69 years in jail with an option of Sh1 billion fine while Waluke was handed a 67-year sentence or a similar fine. 

Although Wakhungu did not sign any affidavit to ascertain her medical condition, there were medical notes from AAR, which confirmed that she was treated for high blood pressure.

“There is no dispute she is aged 80 and going with Covid-19 guidelines, her age is an exceptional circumstance to grant her bail,” Onyiego said.

On the issue of legality of sentences imposed by the trial court, judge Onyiego said commenting on the legality of the sentences will prejudice the outcome of the appeal.

It will be dealt with during the hearing of the appeal. Justice Onyiego set the ruling date after hearing the application for bail pending appeal by the accused.

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