Kenya: Rashid Echesa Takes Plea in Dubious Military Equipment Tender Saga

17 February 2020

Nairobi — Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa Monday faced twelve fraud-related charged in the unfolding saga on procurement of military hardware in which a foreigner identified as Kozlowski Stanley Bruno was swindled USD 117,080 translating to Sh 11.5 million.

Echesa denied the charges ranging from obtaining money by false pretense to conspiracy to commit a felony before Chief Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot.

Co-accused Daniel Otieno Omondi, Clifford Okoth Onyango, Kennedy Oyoo and an entity identified as Pzels Co. Limited also faced similar charges.

The accused persons were said to have conspired to, without authority, make documents relating to a restricted and classified tender number HC2019/2016 from the Ministry of Defence contrary to Section 393 of the Penal Code.

They were also accused of making several correspondences on the said tender with a view to obtain money arbitrarily.

Other charges included uttering a false document contrary to Section 357 (b) of the Penal Code on February 13, 2020, at the Harambee House Annex, the city office complex of the Deputy President.

Echesa and the three co-accused persons spent the weekend in police custody after an unsuccessful attempt for their release on bail on Friday, a day after detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations arrested them.

A Magistrate Court at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) where they were arraigned on Friday gave the police until 6pm on Monday to conclude a search on Echesa's home after which they would free them on a Sh1 million police bond.

Detectives raided Echesa home on Sunday and were reported to be reviewing surveillance footage at Deputy President William Ruto's Harambee House Annex office on Monday where the former CS is said to have held a meeting regarding the tender.

In court, lawyers representing Echesa were filing applications for the release of the suspects on bail pending the determination of the matter.

The JKIA court was set to be briefed on compliance on Tuesday, February 18, on compliance to the directive.

During the Friday court appearance in, Echesa had denied authoring forged documents in the said arms deal valued at Sh39 billion.

Echesa's lawyers dismissed the prosecution's claims that the said documents were recovered from his vehicle when detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) arrested him.

Further, the lawyer said the offence for which the former cabinet member was being questioned is minor and as such did not warrant his detention as authorities investigate the matter.

"From the affidavit of the Investigating Officer, it is clear the offence the applicants are investigating. A minor offence of making a document cannot call for the detention of the first respondent (Echesa)," the court heard.

"It won't help the investigation that he must be in custody for the investigation of such a minor offence to be concluded," Echesa's counsel added.

The prosecution had told the court it needed more time to ascertain the authenticity of crucial documents said to have originated from the Ministry of Defence.

"Ascertaining of the so-called sensitive documents does not require the presence of the first respondent in police custody," Echesa's lawyer argued.

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