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Queries as apex court delays verdict on Wajir poll petition

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By SAM KIPLAGAT
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By WALTER MENYA
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The Supreme Court is on the spot over the delay in delivering a decision on the Wajir governor’s election petition, with a group writing to the Chief Justice to investigate corruption allegations.

After delivering judgments on all petitions before it, focus now remains on Governor Mohamud Abdi who is fighting to hold onto his seat against the combined force of former Governor Ahmed Abdullahi and Mr Ahmed Muhumed Abdi, who also vied for the seat.

The current composition of the court has Chief Justice David Maraga, who is also the court’s president, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Justices Jackton Ojwang’, Mohammed Ibrahim, Njoki Ndung’u, Smokin Wanjala and Isaac Lenaola.

A petition to Mr Maraga by a group of elders last year alleges that a judge had been involved in corrupt dealings with one of the parties.

“The delays are a clear strategy to deny the people of Wajir justice. The delay strategy has made the case drag at the court for over five months (as at October 4, 2018 when the letter was written),” the petition to the Chief Justice reads.

The Wajir gubernatorial election petition was one of the first cases to find its way to the Supreme Court. This was after the Court of Appeal in April last year upheld the High Court’s decision to nullify the election over lack of the required academic credentials to vie for the position. The governor then moved to the apex court seeking to overturn the decision.

Since then, 10 months later, the decision is yet to be made causing anxiety and triggering claims and counter-claims.

More than 20 other cases, most of which were filed later, have been decided with three — Embakasi South, Wajir West and Ugenya constituencies — nullified. In the rest, the incumbents were granted a political lifeline as their elections were upheld.

Independent legal experts, who spoke in confidence to avoid antagonising the court, argue that the Wajir case was seemingly straightforward. In fact, one lawyer said, “It was possible to take even just a week since the judges said they will rely on affidavits filed and submissions did not take long.”

By Saturday evening, Mr Maraga had not responded to our queries sent to him through his chief of staff Conrad Bosire. “I am afraid the Chief Justice is not able to respond today,” he said.

The elders’ petition and conversations with judiciary insiders reveal intrigues surrounding the determination of the Wajir case.

At one point last year, at their regular conference, the judges are thought to have made up their minds on the matter, with only the writing and delivery of the decision remaining.

Furthermore, one of the parties familiar with the intrigues told the Sunday Nation that some supporters of one of the parties recently met to fundraise in Nairobi, an event where huge sums of money were raised “to support the resolution of the legal issue”.

The High Court had nullified the election of Mr Mohamud on grounds that he did not have a degree and secondly, because of massive irregularities. But it is the degree question that has found its way to the Supreme Court. Rival parties tabled affidavits disputing and confirming that Mr Mohamud is a graduate of Kampala University.

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The country’s top court allowed Mr Mahamud to table his academic certificates stating that he was not given a fair hearing before the High Court and the Court of Appeal, which both ruled that he was not validly elected.

“It is on this that we must consider whether the appellant’s right to a fair hearing and trial will be infringed upon by the denial of admission of new evidence,” the judges said.

During the hearing, Mr Fred Ngatia for Mr Mohamud, argued that a degree or lack of it cannot be used to invalidate an election. The lawyer also took issue with the governor’s political rival, Mr Abdullahi, saying he never challenged the matter before the election but waited until after losing the seat.

“Why didn’t they raise the issue for five years?” he asked. The governor also has Prof Tom Ojienda in his team of lawyers.

Mr Ngatia also told the court that the High Court and Court of Appeal ignored the fact that the requirement for him to strictly prove that he holds the two degrees had been waived through a consent signed by parties during the pre-trial conference.

But through lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi, the former governor took issue with the court for “elevating the question of a university degree into a constitutional issue.”

He said the Wajir boss was given a chance to rebut claims that he does not possess a university degree, before the High Court, but he failed to appear and give evidence.

The Court of Appeal, in upholding the decision of the High Court, said as much.

The three judges said the issue of his academic qualifications was a matter specifically within Mr Mohamud’s knowledge.

“He and he alone could have testified as to which high schools, if any, he attended and what grades he attained. He alone could speak as to when he was enrolled at which university to study which course and for what duration. Only he could say what his student number was, who his tutors and lecturers were, what grades he attained and when he graduated,” Justices Philip Waki, Asike Makhandia and Patrick Kiage ruled.

The judges further said it was only he who could explain the strange absence of his name from the graduation list and it was only he who could say when he stated under oath to a committee of Parliament on September 2014, that he had enrolled at Kampala University but was yet to graduate.

“Finally, he alone could explain how, not having graduated as at September 2014, he somehow managed to have in his possession and present to the IEBC a Masters degree issued in March 2015; but which he somehow forgot that he had, when he filed the self-declaration form in 2017 stating that his highest academic qualification was a bachelor’s degree,” the judges added.

The appellate court said there really can be no difficulty, therefore, in arriving at the conclusion that Justice Alfred Mabeya, who nullified Mr Mohamud’s election, was justified, in his finding that he was not legally cleared to vie for the position of governor as he did not satisfy the qualification criteria set out in section 22(2) of the Elections Act and therefore not eligible to contest.

During the hearing in November last year, Siaya Senator James Orengo representing Ahmed Muhumed Abdi, who also vied for the seat, told the court that they will be conferring a degree to Mr Mohamud if they uphold his win.



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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