High Court frees two EACC officers convicted to serve 10 years


High court has acquitted two employees of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison over misuse of office.

EACC legal officer II Anthony Juma Opondo and operations assistant II Paul Martin Sao appealed their conviction on grounds that the prosecution did not prove the case beyond standard requirement.

Justice Mumbi Ngugi further ordered that Sh1 million fine paid by Opondo be refunded to him and Sao be set at liberty forthwith unless otherwise lawfully held.

“I find that this appeal has merit. The conviction of the appellants Anthony Juma Opondo and Paul Martin Sao is hereby quashed and sentences set aside,” ruled the judge.

The two were charged with conspiracy to commit a corruption offence and abuse of office.

The judge agreed with their submissions that bringing the EACC to disrepute and flouting internal processes does not amount to offence of abuse of office as contemplated under ACECA.

She however, noted that the two flouted all internal process regarding investigations, doubtless with intent to confer a benefit to themselves and such conduct most certainly brought some degree of disrepute to EACC.

“What is one to make of the integrity of the anti-graft fight if those charged with waging engage in corruption themselves?” Questioned the judge.

The appellants argued that the magistrate erred in law and in fact in convicting them when crucial ingredients of the offence of “abuse of office” were never established and prosecution did not discharge their duty to prove the case beyond reasonable the standard requirements.

They added that the trial court decision to convict them by relying on” internal procedural breach” as opposed to the specific breach of the law hence arriving at a wrong decision.

“The trial magistrate erred and misdirected herself and relied on facts not adduced in evidence and thus arrived at a wrong decision,” the appellants submitted.

They further added that despite the magistrate holding that the two never used their offices to confer any benefit on themselves, she erred in failing to appreciate that conferment of benefit is the main ingredient of the charge of abuse of office as stipulated in law.

Opondo and Sao are accused of requesting for a financial advantage of Sh 15 million from Dennis Mumbo of Mwananchi Credit Limited through his lawyer Albert Kuloba with intent that in consequence, they would compromise a purported tax evasion investigation involving the said Mwananchi credit limited.

They are alleged to have committed the offence on 27th April 2017 at Uganda house in Nairobi.