Court ‘saves’ Kakamega ex-governor Oparanya from EACC dragnet

Former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe oparanya (left), his lawyer Ken Nyaundi (second right) and EACC detective Andrew Lekamparish (second left) at Oparanya's residence in Lang'ata, Nairobi on August 23,2023 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Plans by the anti-graft watchdog to prosecute former Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya have hit a snag as it emerged that the High Court has issued orders barring his prosecution.

Justice Daniel Ogembo issued the orders preventing the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) from arresting or prosecuting Oparanya on the basis of information seized from his Kakamega homes.

The orders were made at the far-flung Siaya law courts on September 18 in a decision that has escaped public notice as it now emerges that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has approved graft charges against Oparanya and his wife Priscillah.

The Nation has learnt that prosecutor Renson Inganga has given the EACC the go-ahead to file embezzlement charges against Oparanya and his wife. The governor also faces charges of abuse of office.

The EACC has been investigating Oparanya for his alleged involvement in the loss of at least Sh1.3 billion from Kakamega's coffers between 2013 and 2022, when he was governor.

On September 6, Oparanya filed a suit in Kakamega challenging his prosecution, claiming that the EACC exceeded the scope of search and seizure warrants issued by a magistrate's court.

EACC detectives searched Oparanya's homes in Butere and Likuyani on August 23. The officers seized several documents and other items which they intend to use as evidence.

The former governor insists that the evidence against him was gathered illegally and cannot be used to prosecute him for graft.
He has sued the EACC, the ODPP, the Milimani Chief Magistrate's Court and the Attorney-General, seeking a permanent stay on his prosecution for alleged economic crimes.

Criminal charges

“Pending the hearing and determination of this application, a conservative order is hereby issued staying the arrest, initiation and prosecution of any c...against the applicant (Oparanya) based on the information obtained [through] the warrants of search issued on August 23, 2023 by the Milimani Chief Magistrate’s Court,” Justice Ogembo ordered.

The judge ordered Oparanya to serve the respondents with his court papers.

Justice Ogembo issued the stop orders on September 18 when the courts were in recess, before ordering that the file be transferred back to Kakamega.

The EACC concluded its investigations into Oparanya in October. EACC Chairperson David Oginde at the time revealed that the file had been forwarded to the ODPP for approval of charges.

In August, during the search of Oparanya’s homes in Butere and Likuyani, the EACC revealed that it had been investigating the former governor and his family over the loss of at least Sh1.3 billion through fraudulent procurement practices.

Oparanya and his wives allegedly used proxies and close associates to receive funds paid out for county government contracts.

The anti-graft watchdog is investigating several past and current county bosses for allegedly stealing billions of taxpayers' money.
Oparanya served two terms as county chief and was also the chairperson of the Council of Governors between 2019 and 2021.