What you need to know:
- Why were we treated to this game of charades in the first place?
- What was the rush in arresting and detaining him in police custody for two days and three nights?
On the day Nick Mwendwa was forcefully ejected from football management by Sports Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed, the besieged Football Kenya Federation (FKF) boss loudly protested what he termed as his unlawful removal from office and the impending prosecution.
He was particularly upset with the Cabinet Secretary. Without mincing words, he lashed out at Amina in a series of stinging broadsides. On and on he ranted, going as far as calling the CS a snob and a clueless wannabe football administrator.
He also unequivocally rebuked and rejected the caretaker committee that had been swiftly constituted to replace the disbanded federation.
“How do you declare someone guilty without a court process? What kind of law is that? It appears she (Amina) has investigated us, charged us, found us guilty and convicted us… but have we even been taken to court? No! This is an illegality,” an enraged Mwendwa fumed.
But barely 24 hours later, Mwendwa would find himself in police custody. This was clearly in typical “kamata kamata Friday” fashion, a tried and tested strategy that has been perfected by the Directorate of Public Prosecution under one Noordin Haji.
As infamous as it may be, it has proved highly effective in keeping high profile graft suspects in police cells on entire weekends when all court sessions are on recess. Mwendwa, and his high-powered nine-man legal team, eventually had their day in court the following Monday and even got a temporary reprieve after being granted bail as the prosecution firmed up their case – or so they gave the impression.
A week later, Mwendwa was set free after the prosecution failed to prefer charges against him over alleged misappropriation of funds at the federation. The court had granted the prosecution seven days to prefer the charges against Mwendwa, but at the lapse of that period they came up empty.
Which begs the question, why were we treated to this game of charades in the first place? If the state had not gathered enough evidence to prosecute the man, what was the rush in arresting and detaining him in police custody for two days and three nights? Indeed, why was Mwendwa even paraded to the media in handcuffs, like a common thief, on the day he was presented in court, while all along the prosecution knew they had nothing in it?
All this points to an institutional failure in our criminal justice system, particularly state prosecution, which is notorious for bungling even the most obvious of cases.
We’ve heard of countless cases of suspects being dramatically arrested and being held in custody for days, only for the prosecution to come short with no charges in court.
I’ll play the devil’s advocate here by stating, for the record, that contrary to public perception, Mwendwa’s case is not that obvious. True, there have been claims of misappropriations of funds, but that is all it is – claims.
While Mwendwa may have been implicated by the said claims, he is yet to be charged in court, let alone being found guilty of the charges, if there are any at all. As such, he remains innocent until proven guilty.
This is without watering down the fact that the Mwendwa-FKF saga is a matter of public interest. But no matter how vile Mwendwa may appear in the public eye, every effort must be made to ensure that this case against him is judiciously adjudicated.
I understand he was arrested again on Friday. If the state doesn’t produce a charge sheet this time, it will all amount to a persecution rather than a prosecution.