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Ojaamong graft case suffers blow as key prosecution witness renounces statement

The prosecution in the Sh8 million fraud against Busia Governor Mr Sospeter Ojaamong has suffered a major setback after a key witness renounced an earlier statement.

In a dramatic court session at the Milimani Law Courts on Thursday, Mr Nicodemus Mulako, the Busia County Secretary, told anti-corruption court Chief Magistrate, Douglas Ogoti that he did not record the said statement.

Mr Mulako denied ever recording the statement implicating the Governor and other senior ministers in his county government. Consequently, the witness has stood down.

Mr Mulako informed Mr Ogoti that by the time he joined the county government the statement had already been recorded.

“I cannot testify on the strength of a statement which I did not record. By May 7, 2014 I had not joined the county,” Mr Mulako told the court.

Defence lawyers, Mr James Orengo and Mr Dunstan Omari, told the court that in law a witness cannot be allowed to testify on matters that are not within his knowledge.

ORIGINAL STATEMENT

It emerged that the statement had been recorded by a former county secretary.

They argued that the prosecution has not availed the author of the statement and therefore Mr Mulako is barred in law from testifying on a document which is alien to him.

Mr Orengi questioned the veracity of the statement and asked the prosecution to produce both the author and the original statement to prove its case against the accused persons.

The prosecution admitted that the said statement by Mr Mulako was not signed and they did not have the original handwritten statement.

Mr Mulako had been summoned to testify against Mr Ojaamong who is charged alongside other five executive members of Busia County with conspiracy to defraud the County of Sh 8 million by engaging in a project without observing the due procurement process.

Others charged alongside the governor are the County Finance Minister Bernard Yaite, Chief Finance Officer Leonard Obimbira, Head of Treasury accounting Samuel Ombui, Allan Omachari and Edna Odhiambo.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

The charges against them state that on diverse dates, between March 15 and September 25, 2014, they conspired to defraud Busia county government of Sh 8 million by entering into an agreement for a feasibility study on solid waste management.

Prosecution alleges that the accused engaged a foreign company Madam R Enterprise to conduct a feasibility study on waste management which had not been budgeted for.

Ojaamong is separately charged that on or about April 7, 2014, while in Berlin Germany, being the governor of Busia county, he intentionally engaged and sourced a feasibility study on integrated solid waste management project by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with Madam Enterprises Ltd without a prior planning.

The Governor also faces two charges of abuse of office by intentionally entering into contract while on a trip at Berlin in German with the firm even though he knew that the study had not been budgeted for in the year 2014.

Yaite and Obimbira separately are accused that on April 7 and September 25, 2014 in Busia county, being the County Executive members for water, environment and natural resources and economic planning respectively, they jointly engaged in the same project without prior planning.

Hearing of the case continues.