Lawyer Lawrence Mbaabu has given the Kenyan judiciary a clean bill of health against accusation of alleged failure to play along in the war on graft
He defended the institution of justice from the chorus of condemnation and misconception that the men and women of the bench were slowing down the war on run away corruption that bedeviled the economy almost to a gridlock.
Speaking to KNA at the Kiambu law courts, Mr. Mbaabu said it was a misconception to claim that the Judiciary was delaying and undermining the resolve to stem the vice.
The lawyer said suspects appearing in court enjoyed a constitutional right to be freed on bond or cash bail, “unless the suspects were a flight risk and would fail to honour court proceedings adding that is the only reason that warrants the courts to deny them their freedom and instead remand them in custody,” he said.
He said all suspects are presumed innocent until proved guilty and for this reason, the courts cannot deny people suspected to be involved in corruption bond or cash bail simply because they are facing corruption charges.
“People charged with corruption cases have families and have fixed abodes where they can be traced at any time the police require them, “he said.
The lawyer reiterated that citizens needed to be educated on the functions of all institutions so that they were able to tell for themselves who was to blame for delays of justice.
“Members of public require accurate information on the dispensation of all organs of Justice so that they are able to point out poor performance for any of them if need be.
He went further to state that the Judiciary alone cannot proceed and dispense with a given case without the ODPP putting their house in order to prove that actually the person charged is guilty and if not proved, the person should be set free unconditionally.
Mr. Mbaabu further clarified that lifestyle is not a proper gauge that can be used to determine those who were guilty of being involved in corruption.
He said some people prioritised the location of where they lived, how they dressed, the vehicles they drove etc. and as such, it was wrong to gauge those involved in the vice based on lifestyle arguing ‘we live in a free country where one had a right to a certain standard of life,’ he said.
The lawyer said the President should engage members of parliament to amend the constitution through a referendum. Once this is done, he said, the MPs can change and categorize corruption as a capital offence that should not be bailable.
“As things stand, corruption is just like any other normal offence that is bailable and when suspects are released, the spotlight should not be turned to the courts.”
He clarified that courts were operating within the law and were offering justice to all unless one was a flight risk and that they cannot change the way they were treating suspects just to be seen to be in the right books with the government of the day.
Last week the President and the Director of Public Prosecutions Mr.Noordin Haji accused courts of slowing down the fight against corruption. The duo accused the courts of giving suspects orders that derail the fight against corruption and undermining the war against the vice.
The President made the remarks last Friday during a round table with journalists in Mombasa ahead of the New Year celebrations. On the other hand, Mr. Haji has sought the intervention of Chief Justice David Maraga about courts granting conservatory orders arguing that suspects are exploiting them to evade prosecution.
Mr. Mbaabu further called on the police to be fair while investigating cases so that they stop arresting people on Fridays when they have been investigating them for over two weeks.
“When they carry out arrests on Fridays, this is a total violation of someone’s rights as they know very well that there are no courts that are operational over the weekend.”
Despite the Friday arrests, the lawyer said the suspects should be given bond at the police station unless it’s murder which is still bailable” he summed up.
By Lydia Shiroya