What you need to know:
- The celebrations are still on for his supporters, but I remain among the many who think that Mwendwa was ‘definitely’ or at least ‘probably’ guilty of the crimes he was charged with
- This is a period when evidence against corrupt public servants is disappearing without a trace, and previously condemned thieves of public funds are free again
- The trial may have mortally wounded Amina Mohamed’s legacy and set a bad precedent for the future, but it is done and dusted
You can’t keep a corrupt man down, can you? Earlier this week, the courts dismissed a Sh38 million theft case against Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa that had been filed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji.
That verdict brought to an end a year-long trial that forced Mwendwa out of office in November 2021 by then Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, and charged with corruption.
The celebrations are still on for his supporters, but I remain among the many who think that Mwendwa was ‘definitely’ or at least ‘probably’ guilty of the crimes he was charged with. He is yet to comment publicly on the verdict but when he does, I hope he acknowledges the abundance of luck that has befallen him. He is lucky that we are in a season of mass acquittals. This is a period when evidence against corrupt public servants is disappearing without a trace, and previously condemned thieves of public funds are free again.
That aside, anyone who has keenly followed the circus that was Mwendwa’s trial, and had a chance to scrutinise the federation’s books of accounts like I have, will not help but feel that the man has walked scot free, or at the very least, escaped punishment. Truth is, there remains so many unanswered questions for anyone to see Mwendwa as an innocent man.
Question number one: Where did the money go? An extensive audit of FKF’s books of account done by the Sports ministry then headed by Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed found that Mwendwa had a case to answer. What of accusations that he had fraudulently acquired public funds from the ministry? Was it all a farce?
Question number two: If not Mwendwa, then who? Money that has been stolen, has been stolen, meaning that it is missing. If it was not taken by Mwendwa, who took it? I couldn’t care less that the prosecution failed to prove their case. The farce is unmissable!
A jury member told me that the case took nine months, and that it was going to take them a similar amount of time to come to a verdict. Should they have deliberated longer? I say yes. Would they have reached a different verdict? Probably not, for Mwendwa is not your ordinary thief.
Had Nick Mwendwa been a poor stealer, he would have been forgotten as quickly as the clink of the closing of his cell door. But he is a man of means, on the right side of the political divide, and protected by his international friends at Fifa. Why shouldn't he walk? There is something terribly wrong with the value systems in this country.
It is because of all this that only a few Kenyans read the verdict as a cause for celebration. From what I see, the ruling has changed no one's opinion. Everyone can see what this is. A case in which a man has misused taxpayers’ funds, but has managed to escape serious punishment. Nothing new here.
The trial may have mortally wounded Amina Mohamed’s legacy and set a bad precedent for the future, but it is done and dusted. Mwendwa got lucky. The money will never be recovered and the fellows at Kandanda House will probably continue doing what they do best. Life goes on. It's the Kenyan way. What a shame!