Another cold night in cells for NHIF bosses

Bernice Mbugua @BerniceMuhindi

National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) chief executive officer Geoffrey Mwangi and the director of finance and investments Wilbert Kurgat yesterday spent another night in custody after being remanded by a Nairobi magistrate’s court.

Milimani chief magistrate Francis Andayi remanded the two at Muthaiga Police Station until today when he will make a ruling on whether they will plead to charges of conspiracy to defeat justice and disobedience of lawful orders.

The two were arraigned yesterday but their lawyers objected to them pleading to the charges saying they were defective.

Mwangi, through lawyer Tom Ojienda, claimed that the charges he is facing are ambiguous and did not contain sufficient information for him to plead to them.

End his career

According to the charge sheet, Mwangi is being accused of knowingly preventing the execution of a court order requiring production for scrutiny of any book or books of evidential value in connection with the investigations being undertaken by Chief Inspector Nephat Marubu.

Ojienda, however, claimed that the prosecution has not stated the book or books they required from him and he failed to provide them.

“The charge is ambiguous and the accused is not an angel to know what books would be required. If there is a remainder of any documents that the prosecution required, they should have been pointed out,” he said.

Ojienda argued that for a plea to be taken, the parties must be afforded an opportunity to know specific charges they are facing and where the charge is faulty, the accused should be given time to comply with the order which should be specified.

The Senior Counsel argued that charging the CEO with a defective charge sheet would end his career yet he wants to fully cooperate with the investigation.

“Allow the accused persons to know what they have not given as they are willing to cooperate with the investigations,” said Ojienda.

Kurgat’s lawyer, Jotham Arua, said that the charges he is facing fail to meet the constitutional standards and violate Section 134 of the criminal procedure code.

Oppose application

“All charges must contain sufficient information that will enable the accused person to respond and thus they should be furnished with the information they need,” he said.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, through Alexander Muteti, opposed the application saying they have clearly stated the offence in every count. 

Andayi will rule today on whether the two will plead to the charges.

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