By: PAUL OGEMBA
Suspended Geothermal Development Company managing director Silas Masinde Simiyu was on Tuesday charged with abuse of office.
Mr Simiyu was charged alongside company secretary Praxidis Namoni Saisi and seven members of the GDC tender committee over allegations that they illegally awarded a Sh42.7 million tender for rig moving services to Bonfide Clearing and Forwarding Ltd.
The tender committee members charged are Mr Nicholas Karume Weke, Mr Abraham Kipchirhir Saat, Mr Peter Ayodo Omenda, Mr Godwin Mwagae Mwanongo, Mr Caleb Indiatsi Mbayi, Mr Bruno Mugambi Linyuru and Mr Michael Maingi Mbevi.
The charges were, however, characterised by controversy after the suspects’ lawyers refused to take a hearing date to protest a decision by chief magistrate Kennedy Bidali to grant them cash bail of between Sh5 million and Sh8 million.
Mr Bidali, who doubles as the Judiciary ombudsman, had granted Mr Simiyu and Ms Saisi Sh8 million cash bail while the others got Sh5 million cash bail.
Their lawyers, Mr Kioko Kilukumi and Mr Wilfred Nyamu, argued that the higher cash bail was ridiculous and against the precedence of serious anti-corruption cases.
“It is not possible for the accused to pay that money, we are not ready and will not take any hearing date since this is the first time we are hearing of a bail term of Sh8 million in an anti-corruption case,” said Mr Kilukumi.
Mr Nyamu submitted that even those facing murder charges get released on as little as Sh500,000, and that the cash bail given was like condemning the accused persons to stay in remand until the trial is concluded.
“If they had pleaded guilty, they would have not been fined more than Sh1 million. The cash bail is like punishing them eight times,” said Mr Nyamu.
Mr Bidali, however, stood his ground and refused to lower the cash bail.
He also refused to allow the accused to be detained at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission cells, ordering that they be remanded at the Industrial Area prison until they raise the cash bail.
The case will be mentioned on November 30.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION