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Tom Ojienda denies filing fake Mumias Sugar cases

Saturday December 29 2018

Tom Ojienda

Lawyer Tom Ojienda in a past court case. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOEL MUINDE
By JOEL MUINDE
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Following his arrest on Friday evening reportedly over Mumias Sugar investigations, lawyer Tom Ojienda now says he reads malice and bad faith in the prosecution’s planned charges against him.

In a statement posted in one of his WhatsApp campaign groups for re-election in the powerful and influential Judicial Service Commission (JSC) as the lawyers' representative, Mr Ojienda denied having ever conspired to defraud the sugar company through fake cases.

“I have read the Director of Public Prosecution's statement with utter shock and disbelief. I would like to state without any fear of contradiction that I do not, I cannot and I have never filed a fake case. I have never conspired with any person to be paid for work not done,” Mr Ojienda said in statement posted early Saturday morning.

Mr Ojienda was arrested on Friday evening and is being held at the Muthaiga Police Station in Nairobi where his followers pitched tent as they condemned his incarceration while seeking to free him on bond.

“I will present all the cases that I have handled for Mumias Sugar Company to the DCI [Directorate of Criminal Investigations] for them to pick out their alleged fake matters,” said Mr Ojienda.

During the investigations into the affairs of the financially struggling sugar company, Mr Ojienda said, prosecutors did not seek any statement from him but his records are intact.

JSC RACE

Earlier this month, one of Mr Ojienda’s lawyers Mr Nelson Havi, told the Nation that there is a scheme taking shape to lock out people perceived to be hostile to the government from taking up seats at the JSC, especially with several top judges set for retirement.

Mr Havi, who has been representing Mr Ojienda in his battles with the Kenya Revenue Authority over tax clearance issues, alleged that the group behind the plot wants to “have control on how and who the JSC appoints as Chief Justice after Maraga retires.”

Mr Ojienda risked being locked out of the JSC race after KRA refused to grant him a tax compliance certificate and instead demanded Sh443.6 million arrears consequently forcing him to seek the intervention of the High Court.

Immediately after the High Court granted his request to be issued with the tax certificate to participate in the JSC elections, KRA appealed against the court order.

KRA said that the High Court judge Wilfrida Okwany erred in issuing the order, arguing that the directive will make the lawyer tax-compliant despite a row over his tax arrears.

The judge had ruled that Mr Ojienda had established that he has a solid case and will suffer prejudice if the order is not granted.

In recent days, Mr Ojienda has upped his campaign for the JSC post and has spared no effort in his quest to win young lawyers to his cause. He has hosted several dinners for young lawyers in five-star hotels and sought to recruit many of them into a mentorship programme.

MUMIAS WOES

An earlier KMPG report into the financial troubles of Mumias Sugar pointed finger at two of its former bosses Evans Kidero and Peter Kebati, accusing them of ignoring repeated calls by auditors and the firm's board of directors to seal gaping corruption loopholes that brought the miller to its knees.

The report blamed management teams under the two former bosses of blatantly disregarding information from auditors that there existed massive abuses of procedure which needed fixing.

“We noted that Mumias Sugar Company’s internal auditors, external auditors and the board of directors consistently notified management of non-adherence to policy and procedure and gave recommendations, which should have been acted upon,” the report said.

Editor's Note

An earlier version of this story said Mr Peter Wanyama was arrested alongside Mr Ojienda but it has emerged that Mr Wanyama had only been summoned to clarify some information with regard to his former partnership with Justice Otieno Odek and Mr Ojienda.