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Lawyers and rights campaigners question the abandoning of multiple prosecutions for fraud cases against figures close to the new President
'Freedom is coming', was the mantra of President William Ruto's successful election campaign. It was particularly fitting for many of his Cabinet Secretary nominees facing criminal and graft cases while awaiting Parliamentary vetting, after Kenya's Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Noordin Haji, on 12 October withdrew a string of graft cases against Ruto's allies (AC Vol 63 No 20, Loyalty trumps all in Ruto's cabinet).
An out-of-court settlement has been reached with the complainant in an alleged rape case against Agriculture Cabinet Secretary nominee Mithika Linturi. State prosecutor Nyakira Kibera confirmed that the DPP had received an affidavit from the complainant confirming that she had agreed to withdraw the case and that they were not opposed to the case being terminated.
The DPP has also applied to withdraw corruption charges against Public Service and Gender nominee Aisha Jumwa related to the embezzlement of Ksh19 million (US$155,700) from the Malindi National Government Constituency Development Fund.
She faced other charges of conflict of interest, acquisition of proceeds of crime and money laundering while the co-accused faced additional charges of failing to comply with procurement laws.
A new charge sheet is set to be published on 17 October that would allow Jumwa's six co-accused to take fresh pleas after her name is withdrawn from the charge sheet.
Also on Haji's list of withdrawn cases is former Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal, shortlisted for the position of Principal Secretary. The ex-governor had been charged with conspiracy to commit an economic crime by receiving Ksh84.6m from the county government to supply fuel to Samburu County Government.
DPP Haji is also seeking approval to drop the graft cases against former Kenya Power Managing Directors Ben Chumo and Ken Tarus and the company's former top managers, over failure to comply with procurement laws among other claims in the purchase of transformers worth Ksh400m.
He also claimed that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had failed to reply to gaps that had been identified by the prosecution. The moves point to the dramatic shift in power in the DPP and DCI, both of which had been used by former President Uhuru Kenyatta to target Ruto's close allies who were linked to graft.
The Law Society of Kenya has given DPP Haji a three-day ultimatum to disclose reasons for withdrawal of corruption cases. If he fails, the society said, it will take steps to hold him accountable.
The society has also asked the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua to retract his statement that police will no longer execute eviction orders without clearance from the sub-county administration committee.
However, Ruto suffered a small setback when the Employment and Labour Relations Court barred the government from hiring new Cabinet Administrative Secretaries in a case filed by the Law Society of Kenya. The Law Society of Kenya argues that Cabinet Administrative Secretaries have a similar role to Principal Secretaries and will further stretch an already bloated civil service.
Besides politicians eyeing rewards for their contribution to President Ruto's victory, those undergoing interviews for the 49 Principal Secretary posts include Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Commissioner Boya Molu and Mary Chebukati, the wife of IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati.
Parliament has until 3 November to vet Ruto's ministerial nominees.
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