Sh73m graft case: Obado asks court to compel DPP to reduce charges

Migori Governor Okoth Obado

Migori Governor Okoth Obado at Enashipai Resort in Naivasha during a governors' meeting to discuss contentious issues in the Building Bridges Initiative final, November 9,2020.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In the case, Mr Obado is charged alongside 10 people including his four children and business associate Jared Peter Odoyo. 
  • He wants the DPP forced to reduce the counts from 22 to not more than 12 before proceeding with the criminal trial.

Public Prosecutions (DPP) to reduce the number of charges levelled against him in the Sh73.4 million graft case, which is pending at an Anti-Corruption Court in Nairobi.

In the case, Mr Obado is charged alongside 10 people, including his four children and business associate Jared Peter Odoyo. They are facing 27 charges together but the governor is carrying the lion’s share of 22 counts.

He wants the DPP compelled to reduce the counts from 22 to not more than 12 before proceeding with the criminal trial.

In an application filed before Milimani Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi Friday, the governor said the charge sheet is overloaded.

“The number of counts against Mr Obado makes it a near impossibility that his trial will begin and conclude within a reasonable time as required by the Constitution,” he said through his lawyer, Senior Counsel Kioko Kilukumi.

Mr Kilukumi says preferring 22 charges against his client will impede a fair trial, “which is a fundamental right and freedom that cannot be qualified, limited, restricted or otherwise whittled down by virtue of Article 25(c) of the Constitution”.

“The law recommends no more than 12 counts if the fair trial package right is not to be violated or contravened,” he says.

Mr Obado, who is out on a cash bail of Sh8.75 million, is facing charges related to money laundering, conflict of interest and unlawful acquisition of public funds.

DPP’s response

The DPP opposed the application, saying the decision to prefer the 22 charges was made after evidence was evaluated and found to support all the counts.

Through senior prosecution counsel Evah Kanyuira, the DPP said the charge arose from facts which are part of a series of similar transactions and that should be tried together.

Ms Kanyuira said the governor has not demonstrated that the DPP breached any written law in making the decision.

“The request made by Mr Obado has all the indications of inviting the court to direct the prosecution on what charges to prefer against him and how to conduct the trial. This is unconstitutional and unconventional in an adversarial system,” she said.

She also argued that Mr Obado has not demonstrated how his right to a fair trial has been limited, constrained or threatened since the prosecution intends to line up all witnesses within reasonable time.

The governor will have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, the prosecutor said.

“He has not specified with clarity the prejudice or embarrassment he will suffer due to the number of counts contained in the charge sheet as he is considered innocent until proven guilty. ''He pleaded not guilty to the charges without raising any issue as to clarity or ambiguity in those counts or an objection to the number of counts.”

Ms Kanyuira also noted that Mr Obado’s application is an after-thought which should be dismissed and the case allowed to proceed.

The case will be mentioned on November 23 and a date given for delivery of a ruling on Mr Obado’s application.

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