Bank manager charged over Riverside terror attack freed on bond

February 22, 2019 4:47 pm
Sophia Njoki Mbogo is charged with aiding and abetting the attack that left 21 people dead/CFM NEWS

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – A bank manager charged over the 14 Riverside Drive terror attack has been freed on a cash bail of Sh2 million.

To secure her freedom, Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi also directed her to deposit two sureties, her ID card, passport and refrain from travelling outside the court’s jurisdiction.

He ruled that the prosecution did not provide compelling reasons for the continued detention of Sophia Njoki Mbogo who was charged with aiding and abetting the attack that left 21 people dead.

Charges read out to her and which she denies, state that she failed to report suspicious transactions amounting to Sh34.7 million suspected to have been used to fund the attack by Al Shabaab terrorists.

Sophia, who was represented by former Judge Nicholas Ombija, has also been ordered to present herself for interrogation when required by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit.

The prosecution had urged the court to deny her bond on grounds that she is likely to interfere with witnesses or ongoing investigations, but the magistrate ruled that the affidavit filed by ATPU did not indicate that there are witnesses from the bank because it only stated that they are under investigation.

When she was arraigned on Wednesday, she also faced four counts of failure to report suspicious money laundering acts that occurred between December 4, 2018 and January 5, 2019 at the bank.

“It was clearly demonstrated by the lawyer Nicholas Ombija for the accused, that the bank was used by Safaricom as a platform for transfer of money to MPESA agents” the magistrate said.

The court agreed that the accused was not to blame, saying the Service provider had entered into agreement with its agents could be interfered by bank manager.

She has been in custody for the last 30 days alongside six others, having been arrested two weeks after the attack that was claimed by Al Shabaab.

The prosecution said that Hassan Nour, Ismael Sadiq Abitham, Ali Khamis Ali, Abdinour Maalim Ismail, Abdullahi Muhumed Hassan and Isaak Omar Mohamed are being investigated on the role they played in the attack.

The court heard that Ismael had 52 MPESA account 47 of which are operational and have been withdrawing huge sum of money and the same being wire to Somalia.

Police said it needs to investigate these MPESA accounts and their respective Sim Cards and the motive of opening of such accounts.

The bank lady the court was told that she allowed the suspects Ismael to withdraw large sum of money and no report was made to the Central Bank of Kenya as the law requires.

The prosecution said that police will be investigating the bank account of Osmail whom investigation has so far revealed he received Sh100 million from suspected terrorists.

The prosecution said that police will be investigating the seventh suspect Hassan over the role he allegedly played in transporting Vivian Kemunto to Somalia. Kemunto is said to be the wife of Ali Salim Gichunge alias Farouk who is considered the mastermind of the attack. Both are at large. Police had earlier indicated that Gichunge was dead in the attack, but clarified later that he is among suspects at large.

The court heard that the suspect had close links with Gichunge and they were in constant communication with the attacker, his mobile and bank accounts will be investigated to establish the source of his finance.

The court said the matter will be mentioned on 28 February 2019 to confirm whether the prosecution has upplied witness statements so as to fix the pre- trial conference.

The court said that the offence being investigated is serious in nature and involves other jurisdiction which includes South Africa and Somalia.

On Friday, Sakina Mariam Abdalla – the mother of the terror attack mastermind Gichunge was charged with failing to disclose information about her son.

Charges read out to her stated that “on diverse dates between 2015 and 2019 at Kula Mawe in Isiolo County she declined to disclose information pertaining the whereabouts of her son.”

The prosecution told the court that “knowledge or information could have prevented the terror attack which left 21 people dead.”

She was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Andayi, with the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) opposing her release on bail on grounds that she is likely to interfere with witnesses and the ongoing investigations in Kenya and Somalia.

An ATPU officer Monica Githaiga has filed an affidavit in court, stating that Mariam’s claim that she reported her son’s disappearance at Isiolo Police Station in 2014 was not true.

A senior police officer at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations has told Capital FM News that more suspects are due in court next week.

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