Why court rejected Pastor Ng'ang'a bid to block media from fraud case

Pastor James Maina Ng'ang'a Court

Pastor James Maina Ng'ang'a at the Milimani Law Court on June 15, 2021.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

A court has rejected a bid by controversial preacher James Ng’ang’a to lock the media out of his Sh3.6 million fraud case.

Milimani senior principal magistrate David Ndungi dismissed the plea by Pastor Ng’ang’a of the Neno Evangelism Church, Nairobi on Tuesday. 

In a brief ruling, Mr Ndungi said the case against him is of great public interest.

“The case against Pastor Ng’ang’a falls in the category of public trial under Article 50 of the Constitution which entitles the public to be informed about court proceedings,” Mr Ndungi said, adding that everyone is entitled to know its outcome.

Presenting the application to lock out the media from the fraud case, defence lawyer Charles Ongoto had said “he is apprehensive of misrepresenting the facts of the case.”

Pastor James Ng'ang'a in court amidst fraud case

No evidence of misreporting

However, the magistrate noted that the defence had not tendered any evidence of erroneous coverage or misreporting of the case by the media.

With no tangible testimony that the media has slanted the accused, the court said barring journalists from proceedings “is tantamount to denying the public information.”

“I have noted this case has attracted a large number of media people and they are entitled to informing the public the proceedings,” Mr Ndungi ruled.

State prosecutor Abel Omariba had also opposed the plea by Mr Ongoto, arguing that the media cannot be locked out of the case without availing tangible evidence of misreporting. He also concurred that the case was of great public interest.

Mr Omariba also applied to adjourn the case to enable the investigating officer record a further statement from an advocate who was involved in the sub-letting of the residential house which gave rise to the criminal case against the pastor.

Denied charges

Mr Ng’ang’a has denied that he obtained Sh3.6 million on April 6, 2016 through pretences and with intent to defraud. He is alleged to have defrauded a businessman, Mr Wickson Njoroge, at his church office while pretending that he was in a position to lease him a residential house at the upmarket Karen estate, Nairobi.

He denied the charge and was freed on bond.

Mr Ndungi adjourned the case to July 7, 2021 to enable the investigating officer to record a further statement from a witness.

The court said adjourning the case won’t cause prejudice to either party saying “it was the first adjournment request by the prosecution.”

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