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Nyakang’o: My 12-hour ordeal in police hands

Friday, December 8th, 2023 05:40 | By
Nyakang’o: My 12-hour ordeal in police hands
Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o when she appeared at a Mombasa Court on Tuesday. PHOTO/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o has revealed the harrowing 12-hour experience around her arrest by police — including the rough night drive to Mombasa before she was paraded in court three days ago.

Nyakang’o had been made to believe that she was to record a statement at the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in Nairobi’s Central Business District only for police officers to inform her later that she was under arrest and had to take the long night journey to the Coastal town.

Her relatives were turned away as she made the trip escorted by two officers and a civilian.

Nyakang’o, who is now fighting a criminal case against her and 10 others dating back to 2016 took the 498.4km ride from the capital to Mombasa overnight where she was arraigned over charges of conspiracy to defraud, operating an unlicensed Sacco, forgery and uttering false documents.

She, however, received a reprieve yesterday after Justice Chacha Mwita suspended her trial following a petition lodged in court by Mugirango MP Stephen Mogaka.

“A conservatory order is hereby issued suspending the prosecution of Margaret Nyakang’o in the Mombasa Chief Magistrates Court case number E1674 of 2023 until May 21, 2024,” Justice Mwita ordered.

In an interview with People Daily, Nyakang’o whose main mandate is to approve the release of cash from the government’s main account — the consolidated fund services — to ministries, State agencies and counties, revealed that her troubles began on Monday, December 4 while she was leaving the Karen Golf and Country Club where she had been playing golf earlier in the day. She and her husband were returning home only for them to witness an unusual happening while on their way at around 7.30pm.

CBK headquarters

Nyakang’o, who was on leave, established that their car was being trailed. When they were eventually stopped outside their home, the occupants in the vehicle told the couple that the Controller of Budget was needed to record a statement with DCI officers.

“It was a grey Volkswagan Tiguan with about four to five sullen-faced men. They then introduced themselves as officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI),” she said.

The officers insisted that she had to accompany them to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) headquarters to record a statement. Despite pleading to have the officers take her statement from her office home, they insisted that she accompany them.

“When my husband offered them to use one of his private offices in the homestead to record the statement from, they said they did not have the stationery. When we offered to give them some, they declined, insisting they wanted those with the Government of Kenya logo,” she recalled.

Interestingly, one of the officers asked her to dress warmly, a statement that left her thinking about what awaited her at the hands of the officers. She would later be taken to CBK’s Anti-Banking Fraud Unit where, incidentally, she was never required to write any statement. Instead, the Anti-Banking Fraud Unit officers told her that they were under instructions to take her to Mombasa. It was at this time that she opened up about how hungry she was.

Since her husband was still with her, the officers permitted him to get her some food.

“He went and bought some chicken and chips which I ate  with the three officers who later accompanied me to Mombasa,” she said.

As her husband returned home, Nyakang’o drove hundreds of kilometres overnight and arrived in Mombasa on Tuesday at around 7.30am. She was taken to the CBK’s Mombasa office before being handed over to the local DCI officers who later took her to court for prosecution.

Board member

On their way to Mombasa, Nyakang’o said, the officers, who were friendly to her throughout the journey cracked jokes and at one point stopped in Mtito Andei to stretch their legs.

“Despite their friendly camouflage, I remained tense and worried. I didn’t know what would happen to me. And when we arrived in Mombasa, they did not even allow me time to change clothes or freshen up. I didn’t even brush my teeth,” she disclosed.

At the root of her problems is her agreement to sign up as a member of Fountain Enterprise Programme Sacco, whose management approached her in 2019 seeking to enlist her as a board member and to use her expertise to help the firm expand. Nyakang’o said she agreed to sign up and filled out the registration forms.

She was promised that the Sacco members would elect her to become a board member but to facilitate the move, she was advised to save up to Sh100,000 before the Sacco’s annual general meeting.

In October 2019, Nyakang’o was interviewed and vetted for the Controller of Budget job and after her quest became successful, she approached the Sacco and informed the officials that she needed to exit.

At the time of approaching Fountain Enterprise Programme Sacco, Nyakang’o revealed that she had saved about Sh500,000, which she later used to buy two plots of land after topping up.

She says she was still listed as a board member despite not having been elected at an AGM.

Yesterday, the Controller of Budget wondered why she appeared in court alone out of a list of 11 persons listed for prosecution. The charges are the result of an investigation initiated by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who turned over the file to the DCI.

Nyakang’o is currently out on a cash bail of Sh500,000.

Harassment

In the petition lodged at the Milimani High Court, Mogaka wants orders suspending Nyakang’o’s trial pending the hearing and determination of his case.

The MP observes that the arrest and arraignment before court, was conducted under orchestrated publicity and fanfare and wholly violated Nyakang’o’s right to dignity and intent on embarrassing, vexing, harassing and putting her to shame.

The lawmaker says that Nyakangó prosecution comes days after she had blown the whistle on among other things the growing debt  and use of acquired loans to pay salaries as opposed to development.

He adds that the Controller of Budget has in the recent past prepared several reports on the implementation of the budgets of the National and County governments some of which have been adverse and have pointed to the misappropriation of public funds.

 “The arrest comes in the wake of her public exposes with regards to the fiscal improprieties within the running of various state arm and agencies and is a glaring manifestation of a knee-jerk reaction accentuated by ulterior motives, malice and an unprecedented abuse of process,” Mogaka says.

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