By Joseph Wangui
Garissa Governor Ali Korane and four County Government officials have denied graft charges related to misappropriation of Sh233 million linked to a World Bank-funded project.
Mr Korane was charged alongside county finance chief officer Ibrahim Nur Malow, head of Treasury Mohammed Ahmed Abdullahi, municipality county executive officer Abdi Shale and the municipal head of accounting Ahmed Abdullahi.
They denied eight criminal counts while appearing before Milimani Anti-corruption Court chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti after spending the night at Integrity Centre.
The charges include conspiracy to commit an offence of economic crime, misappropriation of public funds and willful failure to comply with laws relating to management of funds.
They are accused of committing the offences between February 25 and September 30, 2019.
The governor faced a separate count involving willful failure to comply with laws relating to management of funds and use of county resources.
The court heard that the governor’s actions resulted in mismanagement of Sh233.5 million allocated to his administration as a conditional grant for the Kenya Urban Support Program (KUSP).
Access to county offices
After denying the charges, the accused sought to be released on bail pending hearing and determination of the case.
Through lawyers Ahmednassir Abdullahi and Paul Nyamodi, the accused also fought a DPP request that sought to bar them from accessing their offices.
The lawyers argued that the charge sheet does not disclose any offence.
The DPP, through State Counsel Alexander Muteti, urged the court not to depart from a High Court precedent that has seen five other governors lose access to their offices after being implicated in graft.
In its ruling, the court released Mr Korane on a Sh5 million bond with one surety or a Sh3.25 million cash bail and granted his four co-accused granted Sh3 million bond or Sh1.2 million cash bail each.
All the accused were barred from setting foot at the county government offices.
Governor Korane becomes the sixth county boss to lose access to his office over allegations of graft.
Others who have been locked out so far are Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Okoth Obado (Migori) and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka-Nithi), and Kiambu’s former Governor Ferdinand Waititu.