Court frees county staff in Sonko bribery claims

 

Nairobi County Chief of Staff George Wainaina with his secretary Roselyn Oluoch appear in a Nairobi court on 26th Jan ,2016 for a mention of their case. They had been charged with bribing Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko. PHOTO.FIDELIS KABUNYI

The High Court in Nairobi has quashed bribery charges against the county chief of staff. George Wainaina had been accused of trying to bribe Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko.

The court yesterday ruled that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) failed to act independently and did not have commissioners to enable it to make recommendations that Mr Wainaina should be charged with graft.

Wainaina and his secretary, Roselyne Oluoch, were arrested by EACC detectives after Sonko, who is vying for the governor’s seat, claimed she wanted to bribe him with Sh1 million to keep him “quiet over corruption issues”.

According to EACC officers, the team accompanied Sonko’s personal assistant to Wainaina’s office where they picked up Sh500,000. He promised to return to pick the balance.

Dramatically staged

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It was then that the operation was dramatically staged as the secretary, who was supposed to hand over the balance, was arrested.

Justice Joseph Onguto ruled that Sonko exerted massive influence on the detectives, adding that it eroded EACC’s independence.

“The third respondent (Sonko) struck me as having been overbearing in the circumstances. He over-arched. He lodged the complaint but then opted not to go mute and wait for the results of the investigations,” The judge observed.

“He appeared on top of what was happening. He knew who was going to be arrested and who was going to be arraigned in court and when.”

Mr Onguto observed that the senator was the complainant who at the same time called for a press conference to inform the media about what was happening.

Sonko’s behaviour

The judge found that Sonko’s behaviour during the arrest showed he had a hand in the whole process.

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“He (Sonko) over-asserted himself in a manner as to leave any reasonable by-stander to conclude that he dictated the process,” he said.

“The fact that the commissioners were absent could exacerbate the situation and make one believe that the second respondent (EACC) was under the third respondent’s (Sonko)directions.”

Wainaina told the court that Sonko asked for a Christmas gift from him and he obliged by giving him cash. He claimed that Sonko was using detectives to extort money from him.

“The petitioner denies having sought or attempted to bribe the third respondent. The third respondent was simply out to extort money from the petitioner hence the trumped-up charges,” Wainaina’s lawyer, Noreen Kidunduhu, told the court. 

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