When Mombasa Principal Magistrate Edgar Kagoni condemned Tanzanian drug trafficker Hussein Masoud to a 30-year jail term and fined him Sh90 million, he warned that the sentence would act as a deterrent to anyone who might be tempted to engage in the illicit trade.
Three months down the line, the harsh warning he gave has come to haunt him as he spends his weekend in police cells.
10.2 KGS HEROIN
Mr Kagoni was arrested at dawn on Saturday alongside three other court officials for mishandling exhibits used in Mr Masoud’s case, which included 10.2 kilograms of heroin worth Sh30 million and Sh600,000 cash.
A police brief seen by the Nation indicated that Mr Kagoni, who has been working in Mombasa for three years, was being held at Mombasa Port police.
“Principal Magistrate Court 7 Mombasa, Hon. Edgar Matsigulu Kagoni, has been put in cells at port police by DCI officers," reads the police brief.
Reliable sources told Nation that the orders for the arrest of the magistrate came from the Anti-Narcotics Director Dr Hamisi Massa who has been leading the fight against drug trafficking at the Coast in recent weeks.
The other court officials arrested alongside Mr Kagoni include Ruiru court assistant Onesmus Momanyi, Mombasa court executive assistant Abdallah Awadh and court staff Lawrence Thoya.
Mr Momanyi, who was on Saturday being held in Nairobi, was the court assistant in Mombasa at the time of Masoud’s sentencing. He has since been moved to Ruiru.
Mr Awadh and Mr Thoya are being held at the Nyali and Makupa police stations awaiting to be charged in court on Monday.
Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji on Saturday said the four mishandled the exhibits which went missing on diverse dates between June 28 and July 26.
The exhibits were reported missing from the store after Mr Kagoni jailed Masoud.
In a statement, Mr Haji said the exhibits went missing after Mr Kagoni declined to allow police to keep them.
Instead, the magistrate ordered that the exhibits be kept by the court despite the investigating officer requesting to put them under police custody.
“CPL Mjomba (investigating officer) thereafter due to the sensitivity of the matter made an oral application to court to let him keep the narcotics drugs under police safe custody since they were of large quantity of 10.2kg valued at Sh30 million, the magistrate declined,” reads the statement signed by Mr Haji.
After rejecting the request, Mr Kagoni did not make any written order on how or where to store the exhibits as required by the law, the DPP said.
Instead, Mr Kagoni allowed Mr Momanyi to take control of the exhibits on December 4, but according to the exhibits register, it was not until the next day that they were taken to the store.
The magistrate Kagoni delivered his judgment on June 11, 2019 and convicted the accused 30 years in prison with a Sh90 million fine. However, the magistrate further made an order that the confiscated Sh600,000 be returned to the accused person which the DPP said was against the law.
The law requires that seized property of a suspect are forfeited to the state upon his conviction.
The arrest of Mr Kagoni comes days after his court clerk Florence Dianga was also arrested in connection with forging surety documents used to bail out Mombasa businessman Mohammed Ali Noor.
The court clerk, was arrested alongside her accomplices, George Ochieng Omollo and Teddy Ojwang Mwanga who have been charged at the Shanzu court.
Mr Kagoni will be arraigned in court tomorrow to face charges of obstruction with intent to defeat justice and aiding and abetting trafficking in narcotic drugs.
His co-accused persons will be charged with the offence of stealing by person in public service.