Night meeting saves Matiang’i date with court

Written by on 14 March 2023

A Sunday evening meeting between Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, former Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and several political leaders from Kisii region played a big role in the decision to drop charges that were to be preferred against the former minister.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had last week asked the Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji, to charge Matiang’i with two counts: conspiring to commit a felony and publishing false information.

He was to be charged alongside his lawyer Danstan Omari over allegations they made that police had raided Matiang’i residence in Karen, Nairobi.

However, after a four-hour meeting at a hotel in Nairobi, the leaders present, who included newly appointed Solicitor-General Shadrack John Mose, agreed among other things to seek the dropping of the charges. They also discussed President William Ruto’s planned visit to Kisii County, which is slated for March 24 to 26.

The President’s tour will come just four days after a rally that Azimio leader Raila Odinga has called to push the government to drop the selection of electoral commissioners and also bring down the cost of living.

Prayer rally

Sources said that besides the question of the harassment of Matiang’i, the leaders present also discussed the unity of the greater Gusii region, which could mean that the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, which the President leads, could be reaching out to leaders from the area — a part of Nyanza — as part of the ruling coalition’s strategy to reduce Raila’s influence.

Among those believed to have attended the talks were SDA Church East-Central Africa President Blasious Ruguri, former Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi, businessmen Jared Kangwana and John Simba and former Bonchari MP Zebedeo Opore.

Sources said Matiang’i — a close ally of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta — had planned a prayer rally in Nyamira, which neighbours Kisii, that would have coincided with President Ruto’s in Kisii. However, during the talks, he was prevailed upon to cancel the plan.

During his three-day tour of the Kisii region, the President is expected to visit South Mugirango, Nyamira and later join CS Machogu in a home-coming ceremony slated for Gesusu.

Although details from the meeting were scanty, sources indicated the leaders tasked Machogu and Mose to explore ways through which the former powerful CS would be offered an amnesty from prosecution.

Free to meet

When reached for a comment yesterday, Machogu said the meeting had been “a coincidence” and that the leaders had just “bumped into each other” at the hotel.

“There was nothing sinister as it is being speculated on social media,” Machogu told PD. “We just bumped into each other and as leaders, we decided to share some of the problems facing our Gusii people.”

He also declined to disclose whether the issue of Matiang’i’s case was discussed only retorting: “What is wrong with Kisii leaders meeting? Are we not free to meet and discuss anything?”

He also declined to discuss how it was possible for ten leaders from the same region to meet at a hotel by coincidence.

Only hours after the meeting, the acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Lilian Obuo said that the two proposed charges against Matiang’i and his lawyer had been dropped and that there should be no further police action.

“Upon independent and thorough analysis of the evidence availed and a review of the statements of the witnesses, the Director of Public Prosecution found that the evidence provided was not sufficient to sustain the above charges against Dr Fred Okeng’o Matiang’i and his advocate,” the statement issued yesterday said.

According to her, the decision had been arrived at following a review based on evidence, facts, the law and the Decision to Charge Guidelines, 2019.

Earlier, DCI boss Mohammed Amin had recommended that Matiang’i and Omari be charged with conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to section 393 of the Penal Code and publication of false information contrary to Section 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act.

The investigating officer, Chief Inspector Maurice Shiraho, attached to the DCI’s Serious Crime Unit, had stated that the two had published in the media that the former CS’ house had been raided by a “battalion and or garrison of police officers intending to arrest him.”

Under Section 393 of the Penal Code, a suspect found liable for the offences can be imprisoned for seven years.

The charges will, however, now be pressed after Obuo said: “The evidence provided did not meet the ingredients needed to prove each of the fore-mentioned offences as required by law. The Director of Public Prosecutions has, therefore, directed the DCI to close the file with no further police action.”

Obuo’s directive effectively closed the case, making Matiang’i a free man.

On February 8, Omari, Raila and others claimed that there had been a raid at Matiangi’s residence, prompting investigations by the head of DCI’s Serious Crimes Unit, Michael Sang.

A week later, DCI boss Amin said detectives had made significant progress in investigations surrounding allegations of the raid.

“After a comprehensive investigation the DCI has determined that no complaint has been made at any police station regarding the alleged raid,” Amin said.

The DCI also established that a vehicle that was seen at the residence that day, and which some media outlets had erroneously reported was a police car, actually belonged to Matiang’i’s neighbour.

False information

Detectives later moved to court seeking search orders to access Matiang’i’s house and obtain CCTV recordings as part of their investigation. They raided the residence and later the DCI said: “Upon completion of our investigation we will take action if any officers from any security agency were involved in any unauthorised activities, or if any false information was knowingly disseminated by anyone to the public.”

On February 28, the Investigations Bureau (IB) of the DCI wrote to the State Department for Citizen Services seeking Matiang’i’s travel history. Immigration Department revealed that the CS had travelled out of the country on February 19 through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

“The subject departed on 19 February through JKIA on KLM flight number 566,” Immigration said, also revealing the former CS’s passports numbers.

 A day before the IB wrote to Immigration, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) also wrote to the Head of the Public Service, Felix Koskei, requesting the former Cabinet Secretary’s wealth declaration documents.

Matiang’i returned to Kenya on March 4 after being in the UK for two weeks. On March 7, he reported to DCI headquarters to record a statement. The following day, DPP Haji confirmed that he had received the file charge sheet and that his office would review it based on the evidence, facts and the law.

In the same week, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki, who succeeded Matiang’i in the docket, then said the government would respect the decision of the DCI and the DPP regarding the case. He also said all former State and public officers ought to be treated with dignity.

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