The Judiciary yesterday appeared to flex its muscles in the fight against corruption when it slapped Samburu Governor Moses Kasaine with the highest ever cash bail of Sh100 million.
In an unprecedented move that may consign the governor to prison for some time, a Nairobi court gave the county boss the option of depositing a bond of Sh150 million plus one surety of similar amount.
These were the highest and most stringent bond and bail terms ever slapped on an individual facing corruption charges in Kenya.
Kasaine was charged with four counts including conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office and conflict of interest and unlawful acquisition of public property.
Nairobi Anti-Corruption Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti said the charges involved embezzlement of public funds.
“The charges, on the face of it, involves the embezzlement of public funds and the court needs to protect the integrity and the process of the trial,” said the magistrate.
In 2015, former Geothermal Development Company Managing Director Silas Simiyu and the former Company Secretary Praxidis Namoni Saisi were released on Sh8 million cash bail with no alternative of bond, which they challenged at the High Court.
Last year, the Ngirita family and others in the NYS scandal were released on Sh1 million cash bail, Sh5 million bond plus a surety of Sh2 million.
Former Kenya Bureau of Standards boss, Charles Ongwae and nine others, on the other hand, were to pay Sh2 million cash bail.
Two months ago, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti complained that suspects were routinely released on lenient bond terms as well as allowing constitutional office holders to access their offices, which frustrated the war against graft.
Haji and Kinoti accused the judiciary of siding with corruption suspects by releasing them on lenient bond and bail terms. Similar sentiments have been expressed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga.
Yesterday, Kasaine was prohibited from accessing Samburu county offices until a formal application by the Director of Public Prosecutions is heard and determined.
The ODPP had made an oral application to restrain the governor from accessing the said offices saying majority of witnesses who will testify in the case still work there.
Through prosecution counsel Alexander Muteti, ODPP sought to restrain the governor for 21 months so that he does not interfere with witnesses.
DPP also asked the court to issue an order to the Director of IFMIS suspending the access rights of the governor and 13 other accused persons who are yet to plead to charges to protect the county government revenue. “If the order is not granted, the county remains exposed and revenue might be lost,” said Muteti.
The DPP did not oppose the release of the governor on bail, but asked the court to impose stringent conditions due to the nature and gravity of the offences.
“The charges touch directly on the discharge of his function as a governor and if the court does not impose terms that would render it impossible for the governor to continue discharging his functions, there is a likelihood that justice will not be provided,” said Muteti.
Lawyer Paul Nyamodi, who represented the governor, opposed the application saying the it was an ambush.
He asked the court to direct the ODPP to file a formal application so that he would have time respond to it.
Nyamodi, said the governor was a constitutional office holder and the DPP could not just make an oral application seeking to have him stay away from his constitutional office.
Ogoti agreed with the prosecution noting that the scene of crime was the county headquarters.
“It is in the public domain that there have been cases of constitutional office holders who have been allowed to access their offices and destroyed evidence to be used on trial,” he noted.
The magistrate directed that the pretrial be conducted on April 29.