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Fifth night in cells for NHIF duo as Haji demands Sh50m bond

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Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji
Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Two National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) bosses spent another night in custody after the prosecution scuttled a deal for their release with a Sh50 million bond demand.

Chief magistrate Geoffrey Andayi Tuesday ordered that NHIF CEO Geoffrey Mwangi and finance director Wilbert Kurgat be remanded at Nairobi’s Industrial Area Prison before he rules today on whether they should be released on bond.

The two have been charged with conspiracy to defeat justice and disobedience of a lawful order by denying police investigating fraudulent deals at the NHIF access to payment vouchers.

The magistrate agreed to release the two on bail after they denied the charges, but asked the lawyers for the two executives and the prosecution to agree on bond terms.

The two camps failed to agree on the bond terms, prompting Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat, who were arrested Friday, to spend another night in custody.

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Prosecutors Alex Muteti and Victor Owiti had initially suggested that if the magistrate was inclined to release the NHIF bosses on bond, he should set it at Sh5 million or alternatively grant a cash bail of Sh3 million.

Mr Muteti later said that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji, had instructed him to request for a Sh50 million bond for each of the accused persons.

But Jotham Arwa, one of the eight lawyers for the two NHIF bosses, insisted that the bail should be at most Sh500,000, arguing his clients faced charges classified as minor offences by law.

Mr Andayi had earlier dismissed an application by Mr Mwangi and Mr Kurgat to suspend their planned prosecution on claims the charges were defective and not known in law.

He further added that the two NHIF bosses had been served with court orders requiring them to supply books and payment vouchers in respect of dealings between the agency and online payment portal Jambopay.

The two NHIF executives argued that prosecutors had failed to prove that they wilfully disobeyed court orders.

But Mr Andayi ruled that evidence that a court order was violated is enough to sustain prosecution, whether the violation was wilful or not.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) disclosed in court papers that it obtained a text message from Mr Mwangi directing Mr Kurgat not to share documents demanded by the investigators.

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