NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – Suspended Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu on Friday pleaded ‘not true’ to the charge of obstructing Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission detectives in their probe of the Sh8 billion Karen land scam.
Ngilu was forced to take a plea on the charge after Senior Principle Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi dismissed her application to have her charge severed from those facing the eight with whom she’s jointly accused.
Mugambi found that Ngilu would not be prejudiced by facing trial with the other Ministry of Lands officials and former National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Managing Trustee Jos Konzolo.
Ngilu had argued through lawyers Paul Muite and Kioko Kilukumi that as she’s facing the one charge of obstruction, she’d be, “embarrassed,” by having to sit through the witness testimony on all other charges and would incur unnecessarily high legal fees in addition to having her right to an expeditious hearing violated.
But Mugambi found that Ngilu was rightly jointly charged with her co-accused as the charges they are all facing have to do with the same parcel of land and the scene of the alleged wrongdoing is the same for all – Ardhi House.
He also found that Ngilu would suffer no embarrassment and her right to an expeditious hearing would not be violated by her having to sit through the testimony of the witnesses the prosecution had lined up against her co-accused.
“It’s possible to have many witnesses and have the trial take a short time and it’s also possible to have few witnesses and have a trial take a long time. It all depends on the co-operation of all parties and other factors,” he explained.
Mugambi also dismissed the application by Konzolo and Telesource to have the criminal proceedings against them stayed as they were already respondents in a civil suit filed by Da Gama Rose over the same 134 acre parcel of Karen land.
But Mugambi found that the anti-corruption court lacked the jurisdiction to make such a finding as it fell under the purview of the High Court.
Konzolo, suspended Chief Lands Registrar Sarah Mwendwa and other Ministry of Lands officials also pleaded, ‘not true’ to the charges of conspiring to illegally transfer the Karen land to Telesource and attempting to conceal said transfer.
Konzolo and his company Telesource are the respondents in the civil suit filed by Da Gama Rose who claims to be the rightful owner of the land.
The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy has however argued that it is public land.
Ngilu is accused of obstructing EACC detectives by directing her subordinates not to give them access to the land’s records and advising them against recording statements with the detectives.
The case will be mentioned on July 13 when Mugambi will confirm that witness statements, the investigator’s diary and the order in which the witnesses will be testifying have been handed over the accused before hearing dates are set.