Sirisia MP John Waluke is a free man after he was released on a Kshs 10 million bail pending the hearing of an appeal filed challenging his conviction.
Appellate court judges Asike Makhandia, Sankale Ole Kantai and Grace Ngenye also offered the Sirisia legislator the option of paying a Kshs 20 million bond pending determination of his appeal.
The convicted MP who has spent six weeks in jail was sentenced to a 69-year imprisonment for his involvement in the Kshs 313 million fraud scheme at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), which he termed as harsh and unjustified.
Through his legal team of lawyers Otiende Amolo and Elisha Ongoya, the MP made a request to the court seeking the elucidation on whether such payments as in his case made by court actions resulting from arbitral awards and payments could support a criminal charge and conviction.
He told the court that the payment of the Kshs 313 million by his company Erad Supplies was lawful as it was as a result of a high court order following an arbitral award which was confirmed by the High court against the NCPB for breach of contract in 2014.
He through his lawyers also requested that the judges decide whether his position as a director of a company made him criminally culpable as he was not directly involved in transactions and in the day-to-day operations of the company, especially as there is no evidence on file of his involvement in the said tasks.
He also defended himself claiming since he was charged he had never missed court sessions in both appropriate and magistrate courts even when he was granted bail.
Waluke also requested that the process of the appeal be sped up, claiming that a delay would lead to him missing out on Parliamentary sessions, consequently resulting in him losing his seat.
Waluke is still not out of the woods as the Director of Public Prosecutions asked the Court of Appeal not to grant him bail, asking that he remain in prison as he failed to convince the court of any existing ‘exceptional circumstances’ the court can consider for his bail application to be allowed.
State prosecutor Alexander Muteti argued that Waluke was properly convicted and sentenced and he has not proved that his appeal is also likely to be successful.
“His appeal is hopeless. Court has no basis in disturbing this finding. Now that this court is properly constituted, there is no chance this matter will be delayed,” Muteti stated.
Waluke and his business partner Grace Wakhungu were both convicted in 2020 and sentenced after they were found guilty of acquiring Kshs 313 million through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) after purporting it to be the costs of storage of 40,000 metric tonnes of white maize purportedly incurred by a company known as Chelsea Freights.