Former Devolution PS Peter Mangiti will face retrial after the High Court overturned a magistrate’s decision to acquit him in connection with the loss of nearly Sh1 billion at the National Youth Service.
Lady Justice Esther Maina ruled that trial magistrate Lawrence Mugambi erred in acquitting Mangiti and 22 other co-accused in the first NYS scandal in 2014, despite overwhelming evidence that they participated in a conspiracy to steal public funds.
“I find that the Director of Public Prosecution’s appeal has merit because the magistrate erred in analyzing the evidence presented to him, which showed that all 23 accused persons had a case to answer for the loss of funds at NYS,” Maina ruled.
She ordered that the case be referred to the anti-corruption magistrate court, where the accused will be heard before a decision is made.
According to the judge, there was evidence that the accused committed a corruption scandal because of open violations of the law in the multi-million shilling contracts they awarded to some companies that were paid despite failing to supply the goods and services.
The decision of Justice Maina pave the way for the first possible convictions of former NYS employees and business entities accused of defrauding the government agency between 2013 and 2017.
Former NYS deputy director general Adan Harakhe, former senior secretary at the Ministry of Devolution Hassan Noor, and former NYS employees Henry Nyongesa, Ruth Njeri, Hezbon Makobongo, Michael Ojiambo, and James Kirigwi will be retried alongside Mangiti.
Other participants include Samuel Wachenje, Samuel Odhiambo, Freshiah Kamau, Moses Osoro, Stephen Mutunga, Peter Muritu, Francis Karanja, Timothy Ndekere, Regina Mungai, Selesio Karanja, and Betty Muriithi and Jennifer Kinoti, directors of a company that benefited from the contacts.
The accused were charged with conspiracy to defraud public funds, abuse of office, and failing to follow proper procedures in awarding contracts worth Sh47 million to Bluestar Enterprises Limited.
In the first count, the former NYS officials were charged with conspiracy to commit an economic crime, alleging that they illegally paid Sh47 million to Bluestar Enterprises from the Ministry of Devolution for the provision of specialized equipment.
Mangiti and Harakhe were also charged with abuse of office for allegedly using their positions as Devolution PS and Deputy Director General of NYS to benefit the company.
They were also charged with failing to comply with procurement laws when awarding the contract.
However, the trial magistrate acquitted the accused in March 2018, ruling that the prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to warrant their conviction.
However, Justice Maina upheld the Director of Public Prosecution’s arguments that the finding was incorrect because the evidence showed that the accused persons conspired to violate procurement rules and illegally awarded the tender for the provision of specialized equipment to Bluestar Enterprises Ltd.
She ordered that all of the accused appear in court on September 5 to defend themselves before a decision on their conviction is made.
The former NYS officials were charged with defrauding the state agency for the first time in this case. They are currently facing another case of conspiracy to defraud Sh791 million.