Kenya: Rotich, Thugge Defy Incarceration After Late-Night Bail Processing

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich (right) and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge at a Milimani court in Nairobi on July 23, 2019.

Nairobi — Embattled National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge were Tuesday night freed after defying an attempt by police to hold them for a second night awaiting bail processing by court officials on Wednesday.

The duo staged a sit in at the Milimani Court declining to board a police van prepared to ferry them to Muthaiga Police Station where they were to spend a night pending the processing of their bail Wednesday morning.

Rotich and Thugge having each deposited Sh15 million cash bail ordered by Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti Tuesday evening remained within the precincts of the court until the arrival of a court official at about 8.40pm who signed their release order.

Ogoti had granted the two Sh15 million cash bail each with an alternative of a Sh50 million surety bond each after a day-long court session during which the top Treasury chiefs and eight other officials were charged with graft-related offences in relation to two multi-purpose dams projects in Kimwarer and Arror, Elgeyo Marakwet, estimated to be worth Sh63 billion.

The charges included willful neglect of official duty, engaging in a project without prior planning, and abuse of office.

East African Community Affairs Principal Secretary Jemutai Koech and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Wahungu were also freed Tuesday night after demanding the authentication of their cash bails.

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji had Monday indicted a total of 28 officials with the Treasury officials being accused of borrowing Sh17 billion more than was required for the construction of the two dams.

Haji said their actions saddled the taxpayer with unnecessary debt.

Taib Ali Taib, a special counsel appointed by Haji did not however object to bail applications by over ten officials charged on Tuesday saying DPP was only interested in securing appearance of the accused persons in future court sessions.

"If they are willing to accede to these conditions, we will have no problem with what they have requested. The amount of monies that this republic has lost through these accused persons is immense," Taib submitted.

"We will be praying to the court if these requirements are met and acceded to by the accused persons, we will be praying to this court to fix the terms of such bail to commensurate to the billions whose loss has been occasioned by these accused persons," he added.

Rotich and Thugge had surrendered to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Monday afternoon after Haji announced his decision to charge them.

They were however incarcerated as detectives processed charge sheets before being arraigned in court on Tuesday.

The National Treasury officials pleaded not guilty to all charges leveled against them during a court session held on Tuesday morning after which their lawyers led by Katwa Kigen, Kioko Kilukumi, and Senator Kipchumba Murkomen made a joint application for their release on bail.

The court reconvened at 4.30pm when the magistrate rendered his verdict on the bail applications.

Magistrate Ogoti ordered the accused persons to keep off their offices at the National Treasury and deposit their passports within 48 hours as condition for their release on bail.

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