We are innocent, says Gakuo

Ex-Nairobi town clerk maintains his hands are clean even as he starts his three-year jail term over Sh283m scandal

Twenty-four hours after they sentenced to three years in former Nairobi Town Clerk Gakuo and ex-Permanent Sammy Kirui were yesin humble posture and regret as they talked to the Daily inside the Industrial Nairobi Maximum Security In a rare behind-bars-interview, the high profile convicts jailed their part in the Sh283 million Cemetery Land scandal, who made a name as a high clerk of the defunct City Council, said his bigregret is that even if he is set on appeal, his reputation has dented irreparably.

“I am innocent and unapolofor my role in the purported land scam,” said Gakuo he sat next to Kirui on hard form, inside a visitors’ The People Daily, after applying through the regular prison visitation rules, was the first team of visitors to see the two after their sentencing.

Gakuo and Kirui blamed a some political elite for their woes, claiming they were innocent while the “owners of the scam who controlled City Hall are walking free”.

Former City Hall director of procurement Alexander Musee, we had also requested to see, did not appear for the interview. It was also not immediately possible to see former Legal Affairs Secretary Mary Ng’ethe who started serving her term at Lang’ata Women Prisons.

Wearing the black-and-white stripped prison garments, and each wearing a pair of shoes without socks, Gakuo and Kirui seemed deeply troubled men as they engaged in the interview animatedly. Their heads were clean-shaven, a sign that they had undergone initial jail formalities.

We could not take their pictures as photography is strictly prohibited behind bars.

Appeal hearing Gakuo and Kirui said they had been prepared for any eventuality during the hearing of their case, “though inside our hearts we know we are innocent,” said the former Town Clerk as they revealed they had instructed their lawyers to appeal against conviction and sentence, and to be granted bail when the appeal hearing starts.

“I am innocent and even if I am back in the same office 100 times I will not do things differently. I had no powers to cancel that tender or to stop the procurement process,” said Gakuo, adding that he was not bitter but felt sacrificed.

“I am not aware why I am here in the first place because I never got a penny from the said cemetery land scandal,” added Gakuo, casting a wistful glance at the solid roof of the room from which he could leave and walk to freedom.

“In the fullness of time, I will be vindicated and maybe salvage my reputation,” he added, holding his chin and his eyes glistening with obvious pain.

However, Gakuo said the prison authorities treated them well.

“I can’t complain for now. I am contented with the services,” he said before a prison warder came and interrupted the conversation, reminding Gakuo it was time for dinner. It was 3.30pm.

According to an officer who sought anonymity, Gakuo and Kirui were being held in rooms separate from the common cells where they sleep on beds with mattresses and have access to radio.

Kirui, who had just collected his ablution necessities appeared holding two green bathing soaps, a toothbrush and toothpaste. He said even though he felt bad to be jailed for a crime he says he never committed, he sympathised more with Gakuo’s ordeal whom he termed an “honest man”..

“When I saw Gakuo sweating in court, I felt pain because in my heart I am clear he remains innocent,” he said.
Kirui blamed the political class whom he says benefitted from the loot but framed “innocent fall guys”.

“My long career and reputation is being trashed but I will be vindicated and try to salvage my face,” he said. He added that Ngethe, in her affidavit, implicated persons of interest from the political class but they were let off the hook.

“With time, our ordeal will be over and we will have our day to explain our story,” he said as they rose to walk towards their prison block.

As the metallic gates swallow them into incarceration, they cut a forlorn figure of two men in illfitting jail regalia, all their past reputations shrunken to the lowest measure.

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