NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 19 – Suspended Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu appeared before a Nairobi court on Friday but did not plead in the case after she objected to being jointly charged with Ministry of Land officials.
Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi released her on a cash bail of Sh1mn or an alternative Sh3mn surety bond pending a ruling on her objection next week.
Lawyers Kioko Kilukumi and Paul Muite insisted that Ngilu should be charged separately because she is only accused of obstructing justice in the 134-acre Karen land probe.
They told the chief magistrate that separating the cases will mean expeditious hearing for her trial besides saving judicial time and resources.
“The person accused may be prejudiced or embarrassed in her defense if charged jointly,” Muite argued.
The prosecution however argued that Ngilu’s name cannot be separated because her charges are linked to the others saying it will also, “be unfair to the taxpayer to have the same case heard by two magistrates and yet the witnesses are the same.”
They further argued that the motive of the alleged obstruction is not known but noted that it would have been meant to conceal evidence, “and eventually ensure nobody is charged.”
The magistrate said he will rule on the application on Friday next week.
CORD co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka was among top Ukambani leaders who accompanied Ngilu to court to show solidarity.
He claimed Ngilu was a victim of witch-hunt due to her, “courage in driving the ongoing land reforms.”
Ngilu on her part, while addressing tens of her supporters said she was hopeful that she will be out of the hook and continue serving Kenyans.
“Over the short period I have been in charge of the lands ministry, over one million Kenyans were given their Title deeds,” she said. “I will continue serving Kenyans.”
Kalonzo pointed out that the separation of the charges would ensure the case is heard fast for Ngilu to continue serving Kenyans.
He called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to wait until the matter is heard and determined before he thinks of, “either replacing or retaining her as the Land Cabinet Secretary.”
Ngilu’s charges were approved on Wednesday by Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko who relied on an investigation conducted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Tobiko agreed with the commission that there is sufficient evidence to show that she stood in the way of investigations into Sh8bn land probe by urging officials in her ministry not to cooperate.
There was however, no evidence to show that she was part of the fraudulent transactions in the transfer of the land that is at the centre of a protracted court battle.
Ngilu has already assured that she is willing to cooperate in the long journey of clearing her name.