60 witnesses, 7 years later, ‘fake cop’ Waiganjo still a free man
When Mr Joshua Karianjahi Waiganjo, a man suspected to have masqueraded as an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Nakuru, was arrested in 2013, the news sent shock waves across the country, with questions being raised on how a civilian could infiltrate the inner circles of the police force.
Interestingly, even after appearing before three judges in Nakuru and Naivasha and three magistrates, his case still remains unresolved.
Even more shocking were the revelations that Mr Waiganjo had masqueraded as a police officer for close to a decade without being detected, allegedly rising to the rank of assistant commissioner of police.
His arrest led to more chilling revelations as people emerged to expose some of the nasty things Waiganjo allegedly committed while operating as a police officer in Njoro, Nakuru County.
These included firing and transferring officers, using police vehicles as well as flying in police choppers.
He is also alleged to have taken part in the planning of the botched mission to recover livestock in Baragoi where 40 anti-stock police officers were massacred by cattle rustlers.
Satisfied with the evidence from the police, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) preferred a number of charges against Waiganjo.
He was charged alongside senior police officers including former Rift Valley provincial police boss John M’Mbijiwe and Anti-Stock Theft Unit boss Remi Ngugi.
The charges ranged from abuse of office, impersonation, possession of government stores to theft allegedly committed between July and November, 2012.
The prosecution lined up at least 60 witnesses, including junior police officers who worked under Waiganjo, senior police bosses including former Commissioner of Police Mathew Iteere, Waiganjo’s friends and the public.
The prosecution’s case from the initial appearance had instilled public confidence that Wainganjo and his accomplices would surely be met with the full force of the law.
More than five years later, Waiganjo, to the public dismay, remains a free man with the various charges filed by the prosecution collapsing in quick succession.
The closest the prosecution has come to securing a conviction was in 2015 when the court found him guilty of being in illegal possession of government equipment and impersonating an assistant police commissioner and sentenced him to serve five years at Naivasha Maximum Prison.
The DPP’s celebration was, however, short-lived after the High Court in Naivasha ordered a retrial of the case two years after his conviction.
Justice Christine Meoli, while quashing the sentence, noted that Waiganjo did not undergo a fair trial as crucial evidence was left out during the hearing.
He was later released on Sh500,000 bond and a surety of the same amount or a cash bail of Sh200,000 pending hearing of the case.
The order meant that Waiganjo would remain nothing more than just a suspect.
To prove this, he proceeded to apply for clearance by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to vie for the Njoro parliamentary seat in the run-up to the 2017 elections.
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, while responding to Waiganjo’s letter for clearance, said the Constitution did not bar him from vying since his appeal was yet to be determined.
Mr Chebukati advised him to comply with various requirements before being listed as a candidate.
In June 2017, Waiganjo was acquitted of theft charges by a Nakuru court due to lack of sufficient evidence.
Chief magistrate Benard Mararo said the prosecution had failed to prove that Waiganjo had stolen a lorry from a businessman, Mr Kimani Chege, in 2009 at Mawanga trading centre on the outskirts of Nakuru town.
The lorry was later released to him.
NO CASE TO ANSWER
Recently, the High Court in Nakuru dealt another serious blow to the prosecution’s bid to convict Waiganjo and his co-accused of abuse of office charges.
Justice Joel Ngugi approved the locking-out of the investigating officer in the case from testifying before a no-case to answer ruling could be delivered.
The DPP had challenged the decision by the trial magistrate Joe Omido to close the case on August 28, 2017 without the officer’s input.
“Looking at the history of the trial, it is clear that affording the prosecution another opportunity to prolong the trial would be highly prejudicial to the defence,” ruled Justice Ngugi.
Mr David Mongeri, a legal expert in criminal law, noted that failure by the investigating officer to testify had the effect of weakening the case.
“He is the one to produce the majority of the exhibits in court and if he does not testify, it can greatly affect the outcome of the case,” said Mr Mongeri.
Even as the court plans on delivering its ruling on no case to answer, all eyes will be on the prosecution on whom the decision will greatly put its competence to scrutiny.