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Ojienda among 21 graft suspects to be arraigned

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Senior counsel Tom Ojienda is among prominent individuals expected in court today following the arrest by the DCI last Friday.

Ojienda has been in police custody for the last three nights. DPP Noordin Haji has revealed that Ojienda will face charges of obtaining money by false pretences, falsifying documents, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud the troubled Mumias Sugar Company.

Peter Kibati, former finance director at the sugar mill, and former company secretary Emily Otieno will face similar charges.

On Saturday, DCI officers conducted a seven-hour search at Ojienda’s Muthaiga office. It was also extended to his Muthaiga residence. The officers sought documents and evidence they hope, will help them nail the advocate.

Nelson Havi, Ojienda’s lawyer, said the arrest was a ploy by the state to lock him out of the Judicial Service Commission race. Ojienda is seeking reelection to represent the Law Society of Kenya.

Read: Ojienda accuses DPP Haji of malice over Mumias arrest

Eighteen other individuals, including former Kenya Bureau of Standards boss Evans Ongwae, will also be in court today to answer to charges relating tax evasion by two companies.

Staff of a company identified as GENDIPE Enterprises and Rupai Trading Limited were arrested and locked up following instructions by the DPP that the two companies had denied the taxman Sh64 million, which they ought to have paid as duty but failed to do so.

Haji has also sighted clearing agent Landmark Freight Services Limited. It is alleged that together with officials from the customs department, it helped the two companies evade tax.

The two companies are alleged to have imported cooking oil in the guise of machinery with the intention of paying lower duty. The scheme was made possible through collusion between staff of the importing firms and customs officials. Some customs officials are among those to be arraigned today.

In a statement released on Saturday, the prosecutor said the arrested individuals would face, among other charges, conniving to commit an offence, concealing import goods, abuse of office and neglect of official duties.

Last Friday, DCI chief George Kinoti ordered for the arrest of the 18 suspects. A team of officers from the Special Crimes Prevention Unit and the Flying Squad was tasked to track down the suspects and hold them in custody.

Read: Ojienda arrested, to spend weekend behind bars

Ojienda is also involved in a court battle with the Kenya Revenue Authority, which has declined to issue him with a tax compliance certificate he needs to seek reelection as LSK representative to the JSC. KRA is demanding Sh443.6 million as tax arrears from the advocate.

It has filed an appeal after High Court judge Wilfrida Okwany directed that it issue the certificate.

KRA argues that the judge erred in issuing the order, which it says makes the lawyer tax-compliant despite a row over tax arrears. Ojienda had sued KRA for refusing to clear him. He said the decision was calculated to sabotage his bid.

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