Kenya: Waluke, Co-Accused to Be Sentenced Today in Sh314 Million Scandal Case

Sirisia MP John Waluke (right) and businesswoman Grace Wakhungu when they appeared in an anti-corruption court in Nairobi for sentencing on June 25.

When Sirisia MP John Waluke and his co-accused Grace Wakhungu stand in the dock at the Milimani Law Courts today morning to be sentenced in the Sh314 million National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) maize scandal, one key suspect in the case will be missing.

Both Mr Waluke and Ms Wakhungu face the possibility of going behind bars for a maximum of 10 years while the MP faces another reality of losing his seat in Parliament if he is jailed for more than six months.

Chief magistrate Elizabeth Juma cancelled their bail terms immediately after issuing a guilty verdict. Since then they have spent the past three days at the Kileleshwa Police Station.

"Since the status of the accused has changed, their innocence has been determined after the court established they are guilty and they cannot continue to be out on bond," ruled Ms Juma on Monday.

Unless they successfully appeal whatever sentence is handed down to them today, the two suspects could be asked to refund the taxpayer Sh628 million. Under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, individuals convicted for siphoning public funds must refund double the amount stolen and spend at least 10 years in prison.

However, missing in the dock will be controversial businessman Jacob Juma, who was murdered in May 2016.

As controversial as he was wealthy, Juma had earned himself the tag chief litigant when he was alive.

The maize scandal is just one in a long trail of court cases that Juma was involved in that were ongoing by the time he died.

Curiously, the businessman had on social media styled himself as a crusader against corruption in the months leading to his death.

Infact, four months before his bullet-riddled Mercedes Benz was found at the exit of the Southern Bypass in Karen, Juma had accused the government of planning to assassinate him over his stand on corruption.

"I will never give up fighting corruption as that is cowardice. I am happy about NYS, Lang'ata Primary School land, Weston Hotel land, NHIF Karen land, Ruai Sewage land and Eurobond scandals that I have been at the centre of the fight for and recovery back to the people of Kenya," he posted on Facebook in January 2016.

At the time of his death, Juma had at least five pending cases before different courts. In the first case filed in 2015, former Westlands MP Fred Gumo accused Juma of threatening to kill him over a debt of Sh14.8 million.

In the second case filed in 2012, Juma accused fellow businessman Bryan Yongo of sending him an annoying message and threatening to kill him.

However, one of Juma's pet subjects was the 1,600-acre Ruai sewage land, which he claimed had been grabbed by a company owned by his former friend-turned-foe Deputy President William Ruto.

The property was eventually repossessed by the government in April despite dozens of court cases contesting its ownership.

Apart from the Ruai land, Juma was involved in two other cases against the DP. A number of months before he was killed, he sued the Deputy President's Weston Hotel, which he linked to the DP and claimed the land on which it was built was grabbed from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

Weston is currently standing on shaky grounds as KCAA eventually filed a suit in court to reclaim the land where the hotel was built on saying the Nationla Land Commision (NLC) had no authority to transfer the property.

In yet another incident, Juma once sued Mr Balala when he was the Cabinet Secretary Mining. This is after a licence issued to Cortec Kenya Limited, a mining company in which he is a director, was cancelled by the Cabinet secretary. He also sensationally alleged that Balala had demanded a bribe of Sh80 million.

Additionally Cortec Kenya Limited sued the government at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes arising out of a mining project at Mrima Hill said to contain one of the world's largest undeveloped niobium and rare earth deposits worth Sh6.4 trillion. The company lost the case in October 2018, two years after Mr Juma's death.

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