Seven suspects in Naushad Merali fraud case set for plea

Wednesday March 18 2020
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The suspects alleged to have conned Sameer Africa chairman Naushad Merali out of Sh10 million by mimicking President Uhuru Kenyatta's voice and pretending to sell land. PHOTO | RICHARD MUNGUTI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By RICHARD MUNGUTI

The seven suspects accused of defrauding Sameer Africa chairman Naushad Merali Sh10 million after mimicking the voice of President Uhuru Kenyatta will take plea today.

They are charged with conspiring to defraud Mr Merali by pretending they were in a position to sell him a parcel of land in Milimani, Nairobi.

Mr Joseph Waswa, Mr Duncan Muchai, Mr Isaac Wanyonyi, Mr William Simiyu, Mr David Kikuyu, Mr Gilbert Kirunja and Mr Antony Wafula Simiyu allegedly committed the offence between January 24 and February 1, 2019 at Prime Bank Riverside Drive, Nairobi.

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They were arraigned before chief magistrate Francis Andayi after the rejection of an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to have them detained for 10 more days to enable police conclude investigations.

Senior principal magistrate Peter Ooko threw out the application by the DPP through senior assistant deputy DPP Edwin Okello.

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Defence lawyer Cliff Ombeta had opposed the application, saying the central issue was the telephone number used to call Mr Merali.

“I know as a fact that this mobile number 0722208842 belongs to President Uhuru Kenyatta,” Mr Ombeta said. “He once called me using the same number.”

He urged the magistrate to reject the request to have the suspects detained to investigate the call data of the number since neither the head of state nor the police have denied he called Mr Merali.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta has not recorded a statement to deny the mobile number is his and that he did not call Mr Merali,” Mr Ombeta stated adding, “Article 43 of the Constitution which pronounces immunity to the President against prosecution does not bar him recording a statement or filing a complaint with the Police.”

Two other defence lawyers June Ashioya and Neville Amolo said the application by the DPP to have the suspects detained does not meet the threshold placed under Article 49 of the Constitution.

Ms Ashioya said the immunity enjoyed by the head of state is not a bar for him to record a statement and set the records straight over call which caused Sh10million to be wired to Equity Bank.

She said the account holder where the money was wired Mr Reuben Njuguna has not been arrested.

The defence lawyers Ombeta, Amolo and Ashioya said none of the suspects has been identified as the caller to Mr Merali neither to be the owner of telephone number.