Courts begin unpacking graft cases from cold storage
Monday, October 4th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
In the past month alone, ominous but glad tidings have emerged from the courts. In quick order, courts have dispatched several corruption cases.
They have rendered judgements that have sent shockwaves to those who have, for years, smugly immobilised corruption cases against them in court.
The latest was the case of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund. A businessman named Mukuria Ngamau, was fined Sh881 million, and jailed for 13 years, for defrauding the fund of Sh180 million through his company, Quorandum Ltd.
The court ruled part of the fine be used to refund the fund’s stolen cash.
Shortly before that, another judgement was rendered in a high-profile case. Former Sports CS Hassan Wario, was fined Sh3.6 million or spend six years in jail, for abuse of office during the Rio Olympics.
His co-accused, Stephen Soi, who was charged with fraud, was fined Sh118 million or spend 17 years in jail in default. Soi was the Olympic team leader.
The former high-flying director of Kemri, Davy Koech, was fined Sh19.6 million or to serve a six-year jail term in default for fraudulent acquisition of public property. Dr Koech was accused of transferring Sh19.6 million from Kemri to his personal accounts to pay his children’s fees when he was the director.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions is unhappy with the judgement and wants it enhanced.
There are some notable takeaways from the judgements. One, the severity of the sentences. Those convicted were given long jail terms as well as huge fines. Some were condemned to return the monies acquired corruptly.
Secondly, corruption cases are finally moving. Some of them have been meandering their way in courts for years.
As has been happening to the corruption cases in the Judiciary, there has been zero motivation by both judges and prosecutors to move the cases forward.
Third, these are big cases. Previously, the courts have been dealing harshly with low-level accounting and procurement officers in public offices, who have been accused of stealing what were really measly amounts.
The big fish have always manouvred their way around the courts to keep cases perpetually in limbo.
Further, these cases have involved substantial amounts of money. Again, the big money cases have moved little, probably because the perpetrators have the financial muscle to keep the cases entangled in the judicial system ad infinitum.
The Judiciary should work more closely with the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) that has been quietly making the corrupt pay by confiscating their ill-gotten wealth.
The Judiciary and ARA are a tag team in the battle against graft. Indeed, it would work very well if the ARA was able to dispossess those with ill-gotten wealth as early as possible when they are fingered by the investigating agencies.
This will stop the corrupt from using the ill-gotten wealth to frustrate justice as they have been so able to do up to now.
The bottom line is that those with graft cases in the courts are no longer sitting pretty.
For too long, the corrupt have taken comfort in the fact that the Judiciary was place where you keep your case packed forever, as long as you paid the requisite “parking fees.”
The omens are good that this is changing, and the wheels of justice are finally beginning to turn.
It seems that the Judiciary has decided to become fully enjoined in the battle against corruption, which has floundered again and again in the courts.
Chief Justice Martha Koome is living up to her vow that there will be no more parking fees paid for stalling cases. She should be encouraged to stay the course as corruption is ferocious when wounded. For now, it seems that the genie is out of the bottle. — [email protected]