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Stay out of office, High Court tells Waititu in corruption case

Thursday August 8 2019

Waititu in court

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi on July 29, 2019, when he was charged over a Sh580 million irregular tender award. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RICHARD MUNGUTI
By RICHARD MUNGUTI
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Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu suffered a major blow on Thursday as the High Court upheld a ruling that barred him from office over a Sh51.2 million graft case.

Justice Ngenye Macharia described the governor as "morally ill" while saying he must stay away until the case is determined.

Governor Waititu, his wife Susan Wangari and eight county officials are facing corruption charges over the irregular award of tenders worth Sh588 million.

Anti-Corruption Court magistrate Lawrence Mugambi earlier granted Mr Waititu Sh15 million cash bail but imposed tough conditions on the fiery politician and his co-accused.

When he was released from police custody on July 30, Mr Waititu did not walk back to his corner office in Kiambu town as the court ordered him to keep off.

THE RULING

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The High Court upheld this ruling on Thursday, justice Macharia saying Deputy Governor James Nyoro and county executive committee members will take charge.

“The Constitution has provided for how counties will operate in the absence of a governor. It will be the same for Kiambu County,” the judge said.

She noted that the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act requires State officers and public servants charged in court to stay out of office and earn half their salaries until the cases are concluded.

She further noted that the Constitution requires Governor Waititu to conduct himself in a manner that will not bring shame to the office and the people of Kiambu.

Justice Macharia directed the county chief to collect his personal belongings from his office in the company of the investigating officer and an officer from of the office of the chief executive of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

She pointed out, however, that Mr Waititu is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

BAIL TERMS

The court dismissed Mr Waititu's application to amend the bail terms - Sh15 million cash bail or Sh30 million bond - that the Anti-Corruption Court issued.

The judge agreed with State prosecutors Alexander Muteti, Victor Owiti and Faith Mwilah, who had asked her not to change the release terms, saying they were in line with the law.

However, Ms Macharia reduced the Sh15 million cash bail set for contractor Charles Chege to Sh4 million.

She also reduced the cash bail for county minister Luka Mwangi Waihinya alias Lucas from Sh15 million cash bail to Sh2 million.

The release terms for tender committee members Zacharia Njenga Mbugua, Joyce Ngina Musyoka, Simon Kibocho Kang’ethe, Anslem Gachukia Wanjiku and Samuel Muigai Mugo bail terms were not amended.

They will give cash bails of Sh1 million or bonds of Sh3 million each in order to be released.

APPEAL

Fighting for his survival through lawyers Tom Ojienda and Nelson Havi, Mr Waititu had urged justice Macharia to set the record straight on whether or not a governor facing charges in court can continue discharging his constitutional mandate.

Prof Ojienda said he will challenge the decision at the court of appeal.

MR Waititu, his wife and all the other suspects denied all the corruption charges filed against them.