― Advertisement ―

HomeNewsEACC Faces Heat Over Sh1 Million Price Tag for Balala's Corruption Case...

EACC Faces Heat Over Sh1 Million Price Tag for Balala’s Corruption Case Copies

EACC Faces Heat Over Sh1 Million Price Tag for Balala’s Corruption Case Copies

A Malindi court has denied a request from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for former Tourism Cabinet Secretary (CS) Najib Balala and his co-defendants to personally produce physical copies of documentary evidence in their corruption case.

Via prosecutor Vivian Kambanga, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) informed the court that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) had conveyed to them that the expense incurred for producing copies for the accused totaled Sh1 million, a cost that was not included in the budget.

Mr. Balala, along with 16 co-defendants, faces charges related to corruption in connection with the building of the planned Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Kilifi County.

Malindi Chief Magistrate James Mwaniki emphasized the importance of complying with the orders issued on January 11, which require the prosecution to provide digital copies of documentary evidence within seven days and physical copies within a month.

Ms. Kambanga informed the court that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) had communicated to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that providing copies of the documents to each accused would be expensive and time-consuming.

“We were not aware when we entered consent (to supply the documents) that EACC will have a challenge in making hard copies, we are not saying it will be impossible to get a supplementary budget but it will take time,” said Ms Kambanga.

She additionally informed the court that sufficient access to the documentary proof was available in the form of electronic copies. She contended that there was no evidence presented to show that the accused would face any disadvantage.

The EACC stated that the content in the electronic version matched that of the printed copies. They mentioned encountering a limitation and explained that the preparation of the supplementary budget would be a time-consuming process.

The accused, represented by their legal counsel, strongly objected to the DPP’s request for the court to modify its directives regarding the provision of documentary evidence in both digital and physical formats.

The attorneys contended that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was well-acquainted with the ability to provide duplicates of the documentary evidence and had not expressed any challenges in doing so.

They contended that the responsibility for providing them with the documents rested with the investigators and the prosecution, emphasizing that the court should not be tasked with resolving budget-related issues.

The defense attorneys informed the court that they would not assume the responsibility of proving the prosecution’s case or addressing the investigators’ concerns.

They alleged that the DPP attempted to transfer the responsibility onto the accused, contending that providing documents is the duty of the State, and the court should not permit the accused to bear that burden.

“The application is not in good faith, you are putting the accused in obligations they are not supposed to do, to put that to the accused is prejudicing them,” said lawyer Mohamed Balala who is representing the former CS.

Mr. Balala contended that the prosecution was displaying a lack of respect for the court and legal proceedings, behaving as though the outcome of the case was already decided.

ALSO READ:

“We should not allow that to happen, a court order was made on the consent of the parties, they should not deviate,” said Mr Balala.

He contended that the prosecution should prepare the documents by printing, binding, and paginating them for the benefit of the defense.

As per the defense attorneys, a portion of the defendants consists of retirees, while others have experienced job loss. Consequently, it poses a challenge for them to cover the expenses associated with reproducing the documentary evidence provided by the prosecution.

Attorney Maurice Kilonzo, who is also advocating for the ex-CS, informed the court that there is no evidence from either the prosecution’s accounting department or the EACC indicating a lack of funds to cover the expenses related to document printing.

“When supplied with the documents, we will be able to follow the trial,” said Mr Kilonzo.

Charges of abuse of office have been brought against ex-CS Balala and ex-Permanent Secretary Leah Gwiyo.

Mr. Balala and Ms. Gwiyo allegedly chose to engage private consultants, going against a Cabinet resolution. Consequently, this decision led to the inappropriate allocation of Sh3.3 billion for consultancy services associated with the planning, documentation, supervision, and contract management of the proposed Ronald Ngala Utalii College.

The individuals facing the charges have refuted the allegations and were subsequently granted release on a bond of Sh5 million each, requiring a surety of the same value. Alternatively, they were given the option of a Sh1 million cash bail.

Supposedly, the Minister and Permanent Secretary, holding positions within the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, are accused of collaborating to misuse their official roles by providing financial benefits to Baseline Architects Ltd, Ujenzi Consultants, Armitech Consulting Engineering, and West Consult Consultant Engineers for their consulting services.

The court was informed that the incident took place in Mombasa on December 13, 2010.

Joseph Odero, trading under the name Westconsult Engineers, refuted allegations of illegally obtaining Sh292.4 million from the Tourism Fund, formerly known as Catering and Tourism Development Levy Trustees (CTDLT).

Allan Chenane and Joseph Cherutoi, former CEOs of CTDLT, along with former procurement manager Norah Mukuna, are currently under investigation for alleged corruption charges.

Eden Odhiambo, Ruth Sande, Flora Ngoge, Joseph Ndung’u, Nancy Siboe, and George Muya, all of whom were part of the tender committee of the CTDLT, have also been implicated by some.

The hearing is scheduled to be mentioned on March 26.

EACC Faces Heat Over Sh1 Million Price Tag for Balala’s Corruption Case Copies

MOST READ