A Nairobi court on Thursday, September 21, 2023, issued a warrant of arrest against one of the accused persons in the Ksh180 million laptops scandal after he failed to appear in court for hearing of the case.
State Prosecutor Anderson Gikunda told Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina that the seventh accused person Johan Ochieng Osore had not given any reason for skipping the session.
Magistrate Onyina proceeded to issue a warrant of arrest against Ochieng and urged the defence to advise the defendant on the importance of attending trial whenever required.
Gikunda also told the court that he was unable to proceed with the hearing of the case against Trans Nzoia Senator Allan Chesang and six others since one of the witnesses had been taken ill. He also cited a power blackout that led to several cases being adjourned at the courts today.
"The witness who was stood down last time has fallen sick and therefore l am unable to proceed with the case. I urge the court to adjourn the matter given my predicament and the blackout," Gikunda told the magistrate.
At the same time, defence lawyers led by Stanley Kang'ahi informed the court that a team had been established to discuss the out-of-court settlement of the case.
However, in the intervening period, Kang'ahi told the magistrate he had been instructed to have the matter proceed to hearing pending the out-of-court negotiations.
"Your honor l confirm that the negotiations in the case have not be concluded you had directed on Monday and l have instructions that the matter proceed for hearing as the negotiations team carries on with their out-of-court settlement talks," Kang'ahi stated.
Following the development, the magistrate adjourned the matter to November 24 to give the parties room to arrive at an amicable solution.
The seven accused persons in the case are facing charges of conspiracy to defraud; making a document without authority; obtaining goods by false pretences; handling stolen goods; and abuse of abuse.
Chesang and Ochieng are charged alongside James William Makokha alias Wanyonyi, Teddy Awiti, Kevin Matundura Nyongesa, Augustine Wambua Matata, Joy Wangari Kamau and James William Makokha alias Wanyonyi.
The laptop scandal contract is said to have been signed at the office of former Deputy President now President William Ruto.
The Prosecution alleges that Chesang and his co-accused conspired to defraud Makindu Motors of 2,800 laptops worth Ksh180 million in a fake tender to the office of the then-Deputy President Ruto on August 12, 2018.
Before Solomon Muema David, the third prosecution witness in the case was stood down this week, he gave a blow-to-blow account of how they were defrauded millions by the senator and his co-accused persons in the alleged fake laptop tender.
In his evidence, Muema said the Ksh269 million contract to supply the computers was between his company Nduso Investment limited and the office of the Deputy President.
Muema said he and Charles Kamolo signed on behalf of Makindu Motors owner Musyoki Ngei while two persons namely a Mrs Muhoro and Wanyonyi signed on behalf of the office of Deputy President in the contract document present in court.
Muema told the magistrate that after the contract was signed they delivered of the entire consignment amounting to 2,800 laptops worth over Ksh269 million to representatives of Ruto.
The witness named the persons who posed as representatives of the office of Deputy president in the whole transaction as Ms Muhoro, Wanyonyi and their pointmain a Mr Kiptoo.
The 2800 laptops which were received by the agents of the then deputy President Ruto' were allegedly meant for distribution to schools.
The then Jubilee government in which Ruto was the Deputy president had promised to supply laptops to all primary schools in Kenya which remains a mirage to date.
Muema said all the deliveries of the 2,800 HP laptops were made at the Treasury Building and escorted by uniformed police officers where Ms Muhoro, who introduced herself as the officer in charge of procurement at the office of the Deputy President.
The witnesses said that Muhoro received the first two deliveries at her third-floor office at office of the DP by appending a government stamp on the delivery notes.
The laptops were delivered in three tranches and were sourced and paid for by the proprietor of Makindu Motors, which sells motorbikes in the country.
Muema told the magistrate that when they got the government tender they brought on bound Ngei to finance the tender because he had the financial power.
"Ngei paid for the 2800 laptops at one go sh 269, 360,000," Onyina heard.
To qualify for the tender Muhoro allegedly demanded a bribe of Ksh500,000 which Muema and Kamolo paid in cash.
"We met Muhoro at Karen Hotel where she requested Ksh500,000 as money for the clerks at the office of the deputy President who were to work out the tender documents," Muema told the court.
Led in his evidence in chief by state prosecutor Anderson Gikunda, Muema told the magistrate that he packed all the laptops from godowns in Eastleigh at eye link and then delivered to Muhoro.
The court heard that the delivery notes of the last consignment were delivered to Muhoro at petrol station near Ruto's office at Karen.
"After loading 699 laptops in a truck Muhoro requested him to take the delivery notes to her at Shell petrol station in Karen since she had been assigned some duties at the Deputy President office," Muema said.
At the petrol station, Muema said that he handed over the delivery notes to Muhoro who did not endorse a receipt stamp on his copy saying she had left her stamp at the office of the DP.
Testifying on oath, Muema said that the agents of Ruto hosted a party for them at Ole Sereni Hotel along Mombasa Road to appreciate a job well done.
"The agents called me and Charles Kamolo at Ole Sereni Hotel to thank us for delivering the 2,800 laptops to them," Muema told Onyina.
During the party, they discussed the mode of payment for the laptops and Ruto's agent said they would hurry to ensure they were paid the entire amount aptly.
To their utter surprise, the three Ruto agents switched off their phones and went under.
Ngei, the proprietor of Makindu Motors, called Muema when the payment of Ksh180 million was delayed by a week and said he feared they were conned.
Muema said Ngei instructed them with Kamolo to report the matter to Athi River police station.
"When we went to report we were detained in cells with police telling us we are the key suspects in the laptop scam when we mentioned the office of the Deputy President," Muema told Onyina.
The star witnesses told the magistrate they were detained for seven days. The police also recovered some of the laptops from the house of Muhoro and Kiptoo in their residences in Athi River.
Gikunda asked the witnesses whether they were ever paid the Ksh180 million to which he replied in the negative.
"So you were conned," Gikunda asked the witness.
"Yes, we were conned. Since July 2018 to date we have never received not heard from Ruto's agents on the payment, " Muema said.
At that juncture, Gikunda asked the court to stand down the witness because one of the accused persons Johan Ochieng Osore was absent and the evidence that was to be adduced touched on her.