Roseline Nakhanu Waluke, the wife of jailed Sirisia MP John Waluke, now says she regrets setting an open fundraising campaign aimed at securing her husband’s freedom from Kamiti Maximum GK Prison. The legislator is in jail over corruption.
Nakhanu says she has since abandoned the quest to have Kenyans contribute to a Paybill number she had set up, citing frustrations and ridicule.
“I regret starting this fund-raiser to bail out my husband. People have been mocking me and hurling abuses at me instead of helping,” the lawmaker’s wife told People Daily on Monday, August 3.
“I wouldn’t have done it had I known things would turn out this way. I have left everything to God,” she added.
“Some are calling and telling me that they can’t contribute money for a thief.”
Waluke’s relatives, who spoke in confidence, told People Daily that the campaign — by late last week — had raised ksh361,458. The MP needs at least Ksh727.7 million in form of fine to secure his freedom after he was jailed for graft by the anti-corruption court on June 25.
The family of Waluke — who has begun serving 67 years in jail should he fail to raise the imposed fine — has thus far raised Ksh250 million, K24 Digital understands.
The raised Ksh250 million includes a Ksh100 million contribution from a senior politician close to Waluke and is known for his generosity.
The legislator’s parliamentary colleagues have, on the other hand, managed to raise Ksh6 million while his family has managed to raise Ksh144 million mainly from sale of property in Nairobi.
In interviews with People Daily last weekend, a member of the Waluke family, who sought anonymity, protested that their efforts to raise the fine were being hampered by agencies such as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which have threatened to track the source of any money paid to secure their freedom.
‘Trial magistrate erred’
The MP’s lawyer, Sam Nyaberi, said they had filed an application for bond pending appeal since they cannot raise the huge fine.
“We are waiting to be heard on August 7, since we filed the application under certificate of urgency we expect to have directions soon,” he said.
Nyaberi noted that the appeal may take time to be heard and determined, and in the process Waluke may suffer prejudice.
The lawyer complained that he is yet to be supplied with the case proceedings to enable him to pursue the appeal.
Nyaberi claims trial magistrate, Elizabeth Juma, erred in law and fact in her ruling, which threw Waluke behind bars for a minimum of 67 years. The legal rep alleges that Juma used a defective charge sheet to find his client guilty of corruption.
He argues that the trial court misdirected itself on the applicable law based on the set of facts adduced by the prosecution to the prejudice of the MP.
“The court failed to appreciate that this was inherently a commercial transaction between a willing tenderer and willing supplier,” said the MP.
Ksh800M raised for Waluke’s co-accused
Meanwhile, the family of Waluke’s co-accused, Grace Wakhungu, 79, have managed to raise a whopping Ksh800 million to secure her freedom.
Wakhungu, mother of former Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu, was handed 69 years in jail or a Ksh707.7 million fine after she was, alongside Waluke, found guilty of embezzling State funds.
Wakhungu is serving time in jail at the Lang’ata Women’s Prison pending the hearing of an application by her legal rep to be released on bond as her appeal is heard. The hearing is set for Friday, August 7.
Wakhungu and Waluke were handed the lengthy jail terms for their role in a maize import scandal which saw the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) lose Ksh297 million in 2009.
A source from the Wakhungu family told People Daily that despite some challenges, they were on course to secure her freedom.
“The sentencing of granny is not something that was taken lightly by Wakhungu’s siblings, both here in Kenya and Uganda,” said the informant.
Due to the robust family network, a system was quickly put in place to have money raised without delay.
“In fact, we outdid ourselves by raising close to Ksh800 million, being contributions from family members through the sale of assets locally and abroad, personal savings and ‘silent’ funds drives by friends,” the source, who could not be identified discussing intimate family details, said.
“However, we are somehow stuck, because we have the amount ready but the DPP, EACC and KRA are sending threats our way,” he added.
The insider disclosed that Wakhungu’s immediate family had raised Ksh197 million. The immediate family consists of the former CS Judi and her siblings Ben Wakhungu and Susan Wakhungu-Githuku.
During her vetting for the position of Kenya’s ambassador to France by the National Assembly committee on Defence and Foreign Relations in 2018, Judi put her net worth at close to Ksh170 million.
A nephew of the jailed granny gave a donation of Ksh100 million while her brother, former Vice President Moody Awori is said to have given his family’s and personal contribution of Ksh135 million.
Wakhungu’s sister, Dr Mary Okello, the founding director of Makini Schools, is said to have donated Ksh28 million.
The family and friends of Dennis Awori, a former Kenya’s ambassador to Japan and who has headed several blue chip companies, are said to have raised Ksh15 million.
The family of former Ugandan MP Aggrey Awori contributed Ksh41 million, sources told the People Daily.
The families of Wakhungu’s deceased brothers Hannington Awori and Prof Nelson Awori are said to have contributed Ksh93 million for their kin.
Others who are said to have given contributions include family members Christine Hayanga, Henry Awori, Willis Awori and Ernest Awori who are reported to have raised a total of Ksh54 million.
A funds-drive organised by Wakhungu’s family members locally and abroad separately raised Ksh236 million.
On Sunday, August 2, Wakhungu’s lawyer, Paul Muite, told People Daily that he was looking forward to the bond application set for Friday.
“We want to appeal against the conviction because the payments which were made to the company (Erad) were pursuant to a court judgment.
“How then do you say they stole yet it was against the judgment of the court that the monies were paid, not through vouchers,” he said on phone.
“If you were to follow the law and say that Grace received Ksh40 million, then the maximum fine she ought to pay, should be Ksh80 million, not the figures they are bandying around,” added Muite.
Early July 2020, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) boss Twalib Mbarak and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji said in an interview on Citizen Television that they will look at the sources of the cash raised to secure the freedom of the two convicts to ensure they are not proceeds of crime.
The duo insisted that if the accused persons must pay the court fines, the funds must be from legitimate sources as they “cannot allow proceeds of crime to be used to free graft suspects”.
“If they seek to pay, we will question where the money is coming from,” Haji said, adding that they are preparing to respond to Waluke’s application before court.
On his part, Mbarak said his agency in partnership with other relevant institutions were focusing on the second phase of the case, which is asset recovery.
“We will go for any assets that these people have as a result of the scandal,” he said.