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Githongo denies evading service

NAIROBI, September 1 – Kenya’s self-exiled anti-corruption czar John Githongo has denied claims that he evaded service of a court summons by former Cabinet Minister Chris Murungaru, during his recent visit back home.

Githongo on Monday described the contents of a statement issued by Murungaru as ‘palpable nonsense’.

The former Permanent Secretary stated: “It has been suggested that I have refused to be served summons by a former Minister. This is palpable nonsense. My lawyers have been instructed to act in my absence, and are both able and ready to receive any legal requests. So far, none has been forthcoming.”

Githongo once again stressed that he had recently visited the country – on express invitation from Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Justice Minister Martha Karua – to ‘undertake a number of planned engagements’.

Last week, Murungaru sent a statement to newsrooms claiming that Githongo was evading service, following a defamation suit he had filed against the former PS in 2006.

In the suit, Murungaru is seeking damages for being linked by Githongo to the multi-billion shilling Anglo-Leasing Scandal.

The former Minister claimed that his lawyers had made fruitless attempts to serve Githongo with the papers.

“He refused to take the service from my lawyers and has not mentioned anything about those papers. He did not take up my challenge and I put to him that he is shallow and a fake hero.”

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“This morning (Wednesday), my lawyers attempted to serve him at his mother’s residence and she confirmed that he had left for Europe. The papers were left there on good advice,” Murungaru added.

The former Kieni legislator is daring the anti-corruption czar to provide evidence linking him to the much-debated scandal and has said that he would seek alternative means to serve Githongo.

But on his part, the ex-PS defended himself and said he would continue to speak his mind.

“I would also like to state for the record that reports saying that I tried unsuccessfully to solicit an audience with the President are wholly inaccurate,” he said.

“I returned to Kenya in order to undertake a number of planned engagements. These included meeting senior political figures as well as engaging with the many ‘ordinary’ Kenyans who have come through the traumas of recent months.”

Githongo said he is due back in Kenya later this month.

According to court documents, High Court Judge Festus Azangalala ordered that the former PS be served with the suit papers when the matter came up in court in May 2006.

In the defamation suit, Murungaru argued that Githongo’s statement, published on November 22, 2005, could be understood to mean that he engaged in corrupt practices and lacked integrity.

Almost two weeks ago, the High Court issued summons directing Githongo to enter appearance in the defamation suit within 15 days, failure to which the court would enter judgment.

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