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Court hands Joho lifeline, halts accounts investigations

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho

MOMBASA, KENYA: Governor Hassan Joho has been handed a political lifeline after the High Court barred the State from prosecuting him over claims of forging academic certificates. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had also accused Joho of evading tax.

The High Court barred the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from prosecuting Joho and ruled investigations against him appeared malicious and politically motivated.

Justice Eric Ogola noted several State agencies had descended on the governor in recent months for no other reason but malice. He said it was apparent action taken against Joho was designed to destroy his political career and bid to defend his seat in August.

In March this year, Kenya Revenue Authority wrote to Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) seeking details of Mr Joho’s bank account. The KRA letter to DTB was written on March 14.

Reports indicated KRA haD written to several commercial banks demanding information about Joho’s bank accounts, including movement of cash. The demand letter to DTB came a day after the explosive drama in Mombasa where Joho was barred from attending a presidential function in his county. “In accordance with the powers conferred upon me by the above-quoted statutes, you are hereby given notice to provide bank statements, account opening documents, mandate forms and any other records for all accounts,” Justus Kiuvu writes in the letter to DTB.

He wrote on behalf of David Yego, who is the commissioner, Investigation and Enforcement Department of the KRA.

“Kindly treat the matter as urgent,” Kiuvu’s letter reads further, stating that the details demanded related to account number 0038342001. The bank is required to provide the statements dating back to January 2011, when Joho was serving as the Member of Parliament for Kisauni Constituency in Mombasa.

Government agencies

“All alleged investigations by the Government agencies have a political ending in my observation,” said Justice Ogola.

He said investigations over Joho’s academic certificates had “become comical in the manner they have been displayed in the public domain.”

Several agencies – KRA, Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) – have jointly or separately been investigating Joho over tax evasion and forgery claims. They have been looking into his tax records, primary and secondary education and even his birth certificate. The investigations started early this year after Joho publicly differed with President Uhuru Kenyatta over Jubilee’s development record in the Coast region. They appeared to gain momentum after March 13 incident when the police barred the governor from leaving his office, travelling in his official cars and attending the ferry launch by the President.

On March 31, the High Court ordered that Joho should not be arrested or charged. Joho also filed a petition his rights we being violated.

Justice Ogola barred the DPP from arresting, charging and prosecuting Joho until the petition is determined.

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Kenya Revenue Authority barred from Joho’s accounts