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Ruto hints at picking fellow thief, MP Gachagua as running mate

Embattled Deputy President William Ruto has hinted at picking his long-time ally and fellow thief, Mathira Member of Parliament Rigathi Gachagua as his running mate as the country heads to the 2022 polls.

While addressing Nyeri residents during his tour to the region on December 4, Ruto asked the residents to allow Gachagua to accompany him in his quest of seeking national votes.

The DP went ahead to request the residents to protect the legislator’s seat even as they partner with the billionaire MP to seek votes across the country.

“You have given me kanda ya wira (Gachagua) to help me to seek the national votes and you will protect his seat here at home. Should I take him to help me?" the DP posed.

This is the first time the DP has hinted at a candidate from the vote-rich region after speculation of other preferential candidates such as Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Narc Kenya Party Leader Martha Karua.

Gachagua has been a vocal Ruto supporter in the region since the DP fell out with President Uhuru Kenyatta after the reelection of the Jubilee government in 2017. 

Before joining elective politics, Gachagua served as a District Officer (DO) and as a personal assistant to Uhuru during his unsuccessful 2002 presidential campaign. 

He is the younger brother to former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua who passed on in February 2017. 

The first time legislator's support for the DP has seen him getting into the hands of law enforcers on several accounts. Consequently, members of the DP's camp accused the government of frustrating the legislator because of his stance to support the DP.

The Mathira legislator has also openly differed with other Ruto allies who have opposed the DP's stance on forming alliances with the other parties.

One of the Mt Kenya allies who have faced criticism from the Mathira MP includes Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.

But Gachagua is staring at a jail term of up to 72 years over corruption.

In charges by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and approved by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the former powerful administrator could also face a fine of at least Sh30 million.

Gachagua is accused of acquiring Sh7.3 billion from proceeds of crime between 2013 and 2020.

The counts include conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption, fraudulent acquisition of public property, conflict of interest, money laundering and acquisition of proceeds of crime.

The prosecution has pegged the first three charges in the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (Aceca) Act (2003), where Gachagua could face a maximum of 10 years in jail for each count.

The other three are premised on Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act (2009), where he could face a total of 42 years.

The State has preferred three charges under this Act; two on money laundering and one on acquisition of proceeds of crime.

Section 16(1)(a) of the Act states that a person convicted for any of the offences leveled against Mr Gachagua is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or a fine not exceeding Sh5 million.

It also recommends an alternative penalty for a fine of the amount of the value of the property involved in the offence, whichever is higher, or both.

Section 48 (1) of Aceca states that a person convicted of an offence of conspiracy to defraud is liable to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or to both.

If as a result of the conspiracy, the person received a quantifiable benefit or any other person suffered a quantifiable loss, he or she is liable to an additional mandatory fine equal to two times the amount of the benefit or loss suffered. If the offence resulted in both a benefit and loss, the mandatory fine is equal to two times the sum of the amount of the benefit and the amount of the loss.

The penalty prescribed in Section 48 (1) also applies to other offences, such as conflict of interest and fraudulent acquisition of public property.

Gachagua is charged alongside nine others.

They include Mathira CDF manager William Mwangi Wahome, who is also chairman of Tana Water Works Development Agency (TWWDA), Ann Nduta Ruo, Jullianne Jahenda Makaa and Samuel Murimi Ireri.

Others are Grace Wambui Kariuki, Lawrence Kimaru, Irene Wambui Ndigiriri, David Reuben Nyangi Nguru and Rapid Medical Supplies Ltd.

Together with Gachagua, they are jointly charged with conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption by defrauding Nyeri County government of Sh27.4 million purportedly for supply of dialysis machines to the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital.

 They committed the offence between May 2015 and December 2016.

Nguru, Rapid Medical Supplies Ltd and the MP face a separate charge of fraudulent acquisition of public property.

In regard to money laundering, the State alleges that between January 2015 and June 2019, Gachagua, with intent to unlawfully dispose monies from Bungoma county government, indirectly received Sh104.8 million and engaged in a movement to conceal movement of the said sum.

The court heard that between September 2015 and September 2016, he allegedly laundered Sh7.5 million received from Kwale county government.

On acquisition of proceeds of crime, the State alleges that between 2013 and 2020, the MP fraudulently acquired Sh7.3 billion through his three bank accounts at Rafiki Microfinance Bank.

On conflict of interest, the court heard that Gachagua reportedly acquired indirect private interest in a contract for construction of Njathaini primary school funded by the Mathira CDF.

The State claims that the contract was awarded to Skytop Agencies, a company owned by Julianne Jahenda Makaa, who is his close associate.

They allegedly committed the offence between October 2018 and January 2019.

Gachagua is out on Sh12 million cash bail. The case will be heard in February, 2022.

 



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