Kenya: Confusion as Two Lawyers Appear for MP Waluke's Brief

12 August 2020

The High Court was Wednesday treated to a rare show as Sirisia MP John Waluke's legal team engaged in an argument over his representation during hearing of an application for bail in the Sh297 million maize theft case.

Lawyers Elijah Ongoya and Evans Ondieki differed on who had been instructed by the embattled MP, who is serving time in jail for corruption, to argue the bail application in court.

The drama started after Mr Ondieki told Justice John Onyiego that he had furnished the court and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) with more documents for Mr Waluke's appeal against the 34-year jail term.

In the documents furnished on the eve of hearing of the bail application, Mr Ondieki said he was poking holes in the prosecution's evidence.

He told the court that his perusal of the lower court's proceedings revealed that none of the 27 prosecution witnesses mentioned Mr Waluke in respect to the charges of fraudulent acquisition of property.

"I was appointed by Waluke himself. I got the (lower court's) proceedings on Monday and saw there is one aspect that I need to cover. That is why I have put a short supplementary submission," said Mr Ondieki.

Unaware

But Mr Ongoya appeared unaware of the new documents and Mr Ondieki's appointment. He said the MP had instructed him to proceed with the bail application on the strength of the documents he filed on August 3.

"I'm embarrassed at the development because up to this morning I had firm instructions to proceed with the application. Mr Waluke is keen to have the court hear and determine the application," said Mr Ongoya.

He further urged the court to discard the documents filed by Mr Ondieki to expedite the hearing and determination of the bail application, saying Mr Waluke does not want anything that would frustrate the hearing.

The court heard that Mr Waluke had only instructed Mr Ongoya and Sam Nyaberi to represent him, as the two have been appearing on his behalf.

Confusion

"I'm the lead counsel and that is my main role. I was told by the client I would appear with Nyaberi. But Ondieki was once on record," said Mr Ongoya as he urged the judge to confirm from Mr Waluke who was following the proceedings virtually from prison.

However, the judge declined the request, saying it would have been more embarrassing as he urged the two lawyers to sort out the confusion.

Mr Ondieki said he had made the filings in good faith but agreed to Mr Ongoya's request to put the documents aside, as State Counsel Alexander Muteti said he would need time to read them, which meant a delay in hearing of the bail application.

Justice Onyiego said the court station was closed Tuesday for fumigation and his clerk and the ICT team were unable to get either the physical or electronic file. Hearing was adjourned to Monday.

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