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Kenya: Suspects still at large as NYS case resumes

The trial of the first batch of suspects linked to the Sh468 million theft at the National Youth Service starts Monday morning, with four still at large.

Warrants of arrest have been issued against Mr Charles Makau Mulandi, Mr Samuel Otieno, Mr Patrick Obunya and Mr Humphrey Odhiambo, all former NYS employees.

It was expected that the four would take their pleas when the case resumes, but detectives said they are yet to be arrested.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions could not be reached for comment.

51 SUSPECTS
A fifth suspect, Ezekiel Ombasso Osoro, denied two counts before Senior Principal Magistrate Lucas Onyina during the pre-trial in August.

This was more than two months after the others appeared in court.
So far, some 51 suspects have been charged with the loss of the NYS money.

All the accused are out after signing a personal bond of Sh5 million, two sureties of Sh2 million and cash bail of Sh1 million, though some of them — especially junior civil servants — sought a review at the High Court and the amount was reduced.

DISMISSED PETITION
Three magistrates are trying the suspects, who include former Youth and Gender Principal Secretary Lillian Omollo, former NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai and 28 former government officials.

Ms Omollo tried to stop the case, but High Court Judge John Onyiego dismissed her petition.
The judge said the institution of charges is a prerogative of the DPP “who cannot be directed on who to take to court or which case to prefer”.

The former PS moved to the High Court accusing the DPP of violating her rights by lumping her case with 10 others that have more than 50 suspects.

She argued that there was a risk of delay in the event one of the accused persons absconds, falls ill or is absent from court for any reason.

PUBLIC FINANCE
Ms Omollo added that the lumping of accused persons in massive numbers in every charge sheet denies her time and facilities to prepare her defence.

The accused face multiple charges of conspiracy to commit economic crimes, abuse of office and wilful failure to comply with procedures and guidelines relating to public finance management.

Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti had encouraged parties to negotiate for a plea bargain with a view of speeding up the matter.

Mr Ogoti said the deal reached would be adopted by the court.

43 WITNESSES
The magistrate made the directive after consolidating the cases, saying, it would help speed up the hearing because a number of accused persons appear in all the files.

He added that some witnesses listed would testify in all the cases, yet they involved the same subject matter.

In the first case, the prosecution has lined up 43 witnesses, including bank officials.
The prosecution will rely on bank statements, contracts, vouchers and memos issued by the officials facing the charges.

DIFFERENT FILES
The prosecution also intends to call document examiners, officials from the National Treasury, who deal with the integrated financial management information system, contractors engaged by NYS and witnesses from the Public Procurement Oversight Authority.

The court heard that other than oral evidence, the prosecution would use statements from witnesses, electronic evidence and experts.

The former government officials appear in all the files, while traders, who reportedly benefited from the dealings at NYS, are in different files.

SH26.6 MILLION
The businesses include Ameri Traders, Ms Catherine Kamuyu and Ms Sarah Murugu of Ersatz Enterprises who reportedly received Sh26.6 million for goods not supplied, Ms Ann Wambere Wanjiku of Annwaw Investments, who is said to have been given Sh59.8 million, and Ms Lucy Wambui Ngirita of Waluko Investment, Ms Phyllis Njeri Ngirita and Mr Jeremiah Gichini believed to have received Sh72.2 million.

Others are Ms Anderine Grace Nyambura of Kalabash Food Supplies (Sh9 million) and Firstling, whose directors are Mr Kenneth Mwathi Mburu, Mr James Thuita Nderitu and Ms Yvonne Wanjiku, who are believed to have corruptly received Sh115.5 million.

Mr Peter Wagurah Kimani and Mr Anthony Makara Wamiti of Arkroad Holdings Ltd reportedly received Sh24.8 million, while Ms Catherine Wanjiku Mwai of Kunjiwa Enterprises got Sh23.4 million.

By Daily Nation

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