Hefty bail terms put civil servants in a tight spot

Top government officials were this week left fighting for their freedom after they were charged with corruption offences and slapped with hefty cash bail terms that forced many to spend time in jail cells and turned the spotlight on the courts and their dispensation of justice.

The prosecutions arose from a recent corruption crackdown that has seen 50 bureaucrats charged in court and asked to pay between Sh1 million and Sh8 million cash bail to regain their freedom.

Cash bail is the amount of money the court demands from suspects charged with criminal offenses as a guarantee that they will appear before the magistrate or judge for hearing of their case whenever they are required to do so. 

There, however, was outrage after a Magistrate doled out hefty bail terms for senior government officials who appeared before him on corruption charges.

Chief Magistrate Kennedy Bidali, who also doubles as the Judiciary Ombudsman, shocked the accused after he ordered that the accused pay up to Sh8 million cash bail for their freedom and refused to grant any pleas for a revision of the charges.
Suspended Geothermal Development Corporation (GDC)hief executive Silas Simiyu spent the night at the notorious Industrial Area Remand Prison after he failed to raise a Sh8 million cash bail. Mr Simiyu had been charged with abuse of office and accused of illegally influencing the award of a Sh42.7 million Rig Move services tender.

READ: GDC’s Simiyu locked up after failing to raise Sh8m cash bail

His lawyers cried foul at the hefty bail terms, which they said were unprecedented and out of tune with what the courts have demanded from those facing more serious corruption charges such as the alleged masterminds of the multibillion-shilling Anglo Leasing scandal.

“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 a bail term of Sh8 million in an anti-corruption case,” said Mr Simiyu’s lawyer Kioko Kilukumi.

Kenyan taxpayers lost more Sh50 billion in the Anglo Leasing security-related contracts and senior government officials, including the then permanent secretaries — Joseph Magari, Chris Obure and Sammy Kyungu — were charged with corruption and got released on a Sh1 million cash bail making Mr Simiyu’s terms to stand out.

High Court judge Jessie Lesiit on Wednesday reviewed the amount to Sh1 million allowing Mr Simiyu to secure his freedom. Mr Simiyu had been charged alongside GDC secretary Praxidis Namoni Saisi and seven members of the company’s tender committee.

Twenty-five NYS officials charged alongside Devolution PS Peter Mangiti met the same fate after they were ordered to pay S million cash bail for their release on Wednesday. They are accused of using forged documents to claim Sh791 million from the Ministry of Devolution and planning.

Most of the NYS and Devolution ministry officials were remanded at Industrial Area prison after failing to raise bail.

Mr Mangiti, and NYS chiefs Nelson Githinji and Nelson Muchemi, are accused of threatening NYS senior deputy director Adan Harakhe as he investigated the theft of Sh695.4 million.

READ: PS Mangiti to face off in court with Waiguru

Simiyu was charged alongside Ms Saisi and seven members of the company’s tender committee. NWCPC boss Evans Ngibuini was also charged with abuse of office, inappropriate influence and misleading the tender committee into awarding a Sh41 million contract.

Mr Ngibuini and 11 others charged with him were released on Sh2 million cash bail each. The NWCPC officials protested at the amount they were ordered to pay and pleaded with Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi to lower the amount. Mr Mugambi however declined the plea.