Kinoti forced us to charge Gachagua, top officer says

Thursday, November 10th, 2022 07:00 | By
Gachagua in court
Then Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua being escorted by police officers to Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi on July 26, 2021. PD/file

A top officer at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) yesterday told court that he was pressured by former DCI boss George Kinoti to press the Sh7.3 billion corruption charges against Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

While being cross-examined by Anti-Corruption Court Magistrate Victor Wakumile to provide details of the said pressure, the Superintendent of Police Obadiah Kuria stated that he acted under immense pressure to prefer the charges. 

Adopting the affidavit, the officer who had been summoned by the court also indicated that at the time of arresting and charging, investigations into the alleged graft and economic crimes had not been concluded.

The magistrate also questioned him on the independence of DCI and whether he acted at gunpoint to recommend prosecution of Gachagua and nine others. He avoided giving details and chose to stick with the explosive affidavit linking his former boss to the pressure.

“Based on immense pressure from my director Kinoti, my team made the recommendations. The accused persons were charged and investigations could not continue as contemplated for various reasons,” the senior Superintendent of Police stated. 

Kuria further informed the court that there are some crucial areas of investigations that were not adequately covered in the course of the investigations that would shed light in determining the culpability of all the accused persons in the matter. 

“It would be prejudicial to the prosecution’s case to proceed with the matter at this stage noting the outstanding areas of investigations that need to be covered,” stated the officer. 

Kuria stated that withdrawing the charges at this stage would allow him and his team to conduct further investigations and review the alleged corruption case.

In his affidavit, he also says he was given strict and fixed timelines to complete investigations and make recommendations to charge the accused persons in the matter.

However, the DCI boss Noordin Haji urged the court to withdraw the charges against Gachagua and nine others, citing lack of evidence. He blamed the DCI for failure to conclude investigations before the office recommended the six corruption charges against the accused persons.

Haji through State Counsel Grace Murungi and Vera Hamisi informed the court that he believed that if the case is allowed to go for full trial based on the evidence available, his office cannot secure a conviction on the matter.

“The DPP independently reviewed the matter and concluded that the evidence  does not meet the evidential threshold required to mount a successful prosecution of this case,” said Murungi.

Explaining how the office of DPP had been frustrated by the DCI in its bid to be furnished with evidence for over one year, the prosecutors requested court to allow the application for withdrawal of the charges to enable the DCI conclude the investigations and resubmit the file to DPP for directions. 

“The DPP said the anticipated evidence will not be availed at this stage unless the Investigating Officer is given more time to complete investigations and resubmit the file to Haji for further directions,” he said.

The prosecution added that despite numerous letters to the DCI asking for the original file and the exhibits, the investigators failed to provide the same. 

“In light of the request to review, the prosecution team sat and reviewed the evidence and realised that we were not able to respond to the letters without the evidence we had requested from the DCI at the time we were charging,” said Murungi.

“The DCI did not respond to our request, nor did they avail the original files and the exhibits required to enable us to study the file again,” she added. The trial started in July 2021 and hearing failed to take off over unavailability of the evidence to support the alleged offences that Gachagua and his co-accused allegedly committed in their business dealings with State agencies.

On his part, the Deputy President, through his lawyer Kioko Kilukumi, welcomed the decision by the DPP to withdraw the charges against him. He argued that the move to prefer charges without complete information was unjustifiable and a testament to the abuse of power by State institutions.

“We are not opposing the application by the DPP to withdraw the case under Section 87(a)of the Criminal Procedure Code. This application has been made before any prosecution witness has given evidence. According to the State, if they were to proceed with the case, it would end in an acquittal,” Kilukumi informed the court. 

He continued: The Prosecution is saving precious time for the parties including the court and accused persons.

In the case, Gachagua had been charged alongside nine others including Nyeri senator William Wahome Mwangi, Anne Nduta Ruo, Julianne Jahenda Makaa, Samuel Murimi, Grace Wambui Kariuki, Lawrence Kimaru, Irene Wambui Ndigiriri, David Reuben and a company M/S Rapid Medical Supplies.

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