Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong will spend two nights in police custody awaiting a ruling on whether he will be released on bond after he denied abuse-of-office charges.
Mr Ojaamong was also accused of conspiracy to commit an economic crime and engaging in a project without proper planning. He was charged at the Milimani Law Courts together with county executive officer Bernard Yaite, Finance chief officer Allan Ekweny and Treasury head Samuel Ombui.
The four were taken to court from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) headquarters at Integrity House in handcuffs as their lawyers, James Orengo and Stephen Ligunya, protested that they were being humiliated yet they had not been proved guilty.
The prosecution, led by Alexander Muteti and Grace Muthoni, opposed their release on bail, saying they could interfere with witnesses as they were influential in the county.
Mr Muteti said most of the witnesses were junior officers from the county and the suspects could intimidate or dissuade them from testifying.
Through an affidavit by the investigating officer, Mr Timothy Wahome, the prosecution told Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti that the likelihood of the suspects interfering with the course of justice was a compelling reason for denial of bail.
But Mr Orengo said the offences were allegedly committed four years ago and there was nothing the suspects could do “and have not done now that they have been charged.”
He sought to give a personal guarantee that he would bring Mr Ojaamong to court whenever he was needed. Mr Orengo said the suspects were not a flight risk and the claims by the prosecution were “just sweeping allegations with nothing to back them up.”
“I am pleading with the court from the bottom of my heart to release them on bail. The liberty of a person is the best guarantee of the right to life,” he said.
Mr Ogoti said he will deliver his ruling on the bail application tomorrow.
The court heard that the Busia Governor and the other officials engaged a company known as Madam R Enterprises to conduct a feasibility study on waste management yet the project had not been budgeted for. In the process, the county lost Sh8 million, the court was told.
They were also accused of wilful failure to comply with the law on the management of public funds and fraudulent acquisition of public property.
Mr Muteti applied for warrants of arrest against six other accused persons who, he said, had failed to appear in court. They are Mr Timon Otieno, Mr Leonard Wanda, Madam R Enterprises and its directors Ms Edna Adhiambo, Ms Renish Achieng and Sebastian Hallensleben, a German.
The court was told that they committed the offences between March 15 and September 25, 2014.
They are jointly accused of conspiring to commit an economic crime by engaging in a scheme to defraud the County of Busia of Sh8 million through entering into a memorandum of understanding for the study.
Mr Ojaamong is accused of intentionally entering into the deal with the firm although he knew the study had not been budgeted for in the year 2013/2014. He is said to have entered into the contract while in Berlin, Germany, on April 7, 2014.
He is also accused of abuse of office by improperly conferring a benefit to the company.
Their lawyers asked the court to grant the suspects conditional release and that they be taken to Kileleshwa police station or EACC cells.
Although the DPP opposed the application, saying that all suspects should be treated equally, the magistrate ordered that they be held at the EACC cells.
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