Seven suspects accused of impersonating President Uhuru Kenyatta have challenged the prosecution to produce him in court as a witness.
The seven – Joseph Waswa, Duncan Muchai, Isaac Wajekeche, William Simiyu, David Luganya, Gilbert Kirunja and Anthony Wafula told a magistrate the law does not bar Kenyatta from appearing as a witness or complainant in the case.
The seven are accused of using mobile number 0722-208842 to call the chairman of Sameer Africa Naushad Merali to release Sh10 million while mimicking Kenyatta.
Their lawyer Cliff Ombeta said that in the absence of confirmation from Kenyatta that the number is not his, what’s before court is mere speculation.
“A telephone number was cited in the affidavit by Inspector James Mwangi, but no annexture from any mobile phone provider has been presented to confirm if the numbers exists and who it is registered under,” said Ombetta. He was making the arguments while opposing an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions to have the seven detained for 10 days pending further investigations.
Prosecutor Edwin Okello said it’s unfortunate the case involves the President, but whether or not he should be summoned as a witness is “neither here nor there”.
He urged the court to allow their application and detain the seven for 10 days due to the complexity of the investigations and the number of suspects involved, including some who are still at large. He told the court that the investigations will involve going through voluminous documents including bank documents and call data records.
“The nature of investigations in this case is complex since it requires communication data from several service providers which ordinarily requires time. We need to establish the details of the bank account which was used to defraud Sh10 million and the signatories to the account, “ he said.
Magistrate Peter Ooko dismissed the prosecution application saying none of the seven work with any mobile service provider or at the bank where the said Sh10 million was deposited.
“I do not know how the suspects would interfere with the banks as the bank account stated by the prosecution is for a suspect Reuben Njuguna who is not present in court,”
The complainant, Akif Hamid Butt, the Finance Director of Sameer Africa, allegedly wired the Sh10 million via electronic money transfer from Sameer Africa Bank account to an Equity Bank account in the name of Reuben Njuguna. Njuguna has not been presented in court.
It was for those reasons that Ooko failed to find any compelling reasons to detain the seven. He immediately ordered they either be charged or discharged by close of yesterday.
This prompted the State to prepare and register a charge sheet four hours later. The seven were then presented before Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi a few minutes to 5pm. But the magistrate directed they be arraigned today since it was past working hours.
According to the charge sheet, Waswa, Muchai, Wajekeche, Simiyu, Luganya, Kirunja and Wafula are accused of obtaining Sh10 million from Akif Hamid Butt by falsely pretending they could sell to Sameer Africa a parcel of land known as LR No. 10090/118 in Milimani area, Nairobi.
The offence is said to have been committed between 24 January and February 1 this year, at Prime Bank, Riverside Drive, Nairobi.
According to the court documents, Akif lost Sh10 million to the alleged fraudsters.
The seven used mobile number 0722-208842 and called the Merali, the chairman of Sameer Africa, to facilitate the release of the money while mimicking the voice of Kenyatta calling from State House, Nairobi.
Merali was outside the country on a business trip when he received the call from the suspects and gave a go ahead to the Butt to process the payments.
Akif was then given an account number held at Equity Bank in which he deposited the money.
“The complainant was being contacted by the fraudsters using several telephone numbers purportedly from President Uhuru Kenyatta. He later realised he was dealing with fraudsters after he had already lost his Sh10 million shillings,” part of the affidavit said.