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My three-year hell in the corridors of justice that almost cost me my firm

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For years, Danson Muchemi hardly clocked more than six hours of sleep on any given night.

But then a freak accident earlier this year left the JamboPay boss bedridden for weeks, and forced him to slow down and reflect on the 11-year journey that built him a business empire.

From his hospital bed, time could not have moved any slower for the man who started a multi-million-shilling e-payment services firm from a cyber café. Back in those days, he would operate from a computer that he rented for Sh4,500 a month.

“Those weeks lying in the hospital made me connect with things beyond the balance sheet,” he said.

Muchemi, who now carries a striking scar on the right side of his head as a result of the accident, described it as the final drop in a bitter cocktail of politics and legal battles that nearly killed JamboPay.

Two controversial legal battles involving City Hall and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) have been a prickling thorn in JamboPay’s flesh.

Muchemi, who is the director of Webtribe, JamboPay’s holding company, said since the cases started in 2017, the brand has been significantly hurt.

The bad press has seen revenues drop by more than half as clients flee.

“When your brand is affected, more so in our space, you get a direct hit on your bottom line. I lost opportunities, revenue and time,” he said.

“That impact was bigger than Covid-19’s impact on our business.”

He added that growth at the firm, which he started as a 24-year-old, has also been halted.

“Prior to this, JamboPay was growing 300 per cent year-on-year for seven years. Not only did we stop growing, but we clawed back the gains.”

Last month, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dropped charges against Muchemi in a case involving the alleged loss of Sh1.1 billion at the NHIF. In the case, he agreed to help the prosecution.

Muchemi’s name was also removed from the list of accused persons in a Sh357 million graft case against Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

The dropping of charges in the two cases has seen Muchemi become a prosecution witness, but he denies claims that he ‘snitched’ to save his skin.

“Not entirely true … we challenged the decision to charge us. We had back-to-back meetings and we were able to explain and demonstrate no wrongdoing even before the trial began.”

Now Muchemi believes that with the controversial cases over, it’s time to rebuild his business.

“I believed I’d overcome because I was certain of our innocence,” he said.

The JamboPay boss said the investigations were in “good faith” and in “public interest” and had led him to better appreciate investigative agencies such as the ODPP and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Muchemi said as a result of what he has gone through, he now understands the procurement process better and is still willing to continue working with the government despite the anguish caused by the cases.

“When I participate in a tender, I will be keener … and not only be happy to win a bid but also be sure it’s done properly,” he said.

“I was psychologically battered when this happened, and the good side of that is I got to understand the things I never bothered to think about, including the role of private citizens in fighting graft. As a business, we need to be ready to have to walk through fire and have to do right and do it consistently. Otherwise, we’d still be in those charges.”

On rebuilding the business, Muchemi said there are plans to list at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in the next four years, targeting to raise Sh9.6 billion.

He said the company also plans to diversify into financial services, including digital insurance and money transfer, as well as expanding operations across Africa with new products.

The plan to list has seen the firm embark on a business restructuring process meant to strengthen corporate governance ahead of the planned initial public offering.

JamboPay is also in talks with investors to inject more cash to revamp its technology and the marketing of its products.

The firm recently ventured into e-commerce, targeting small and medium enterprises, farmers, and vendors through a platform known as the JamboPay Market.

Shoppers can order products from genuine producers, farmers, and vendors securely through the platform and have the products delivered to their homes or offices.

Working with City Hall has been one of JamboPay’s biggest achievements, but the contract was riddled with controversy, including claims that the company won the tender unscrupulously.

JamboPay supported the city’s eJijipay platform on which the county collects parking fees, land rates and other fees, with the firm taking 4.5 per cent of the cash transacted.

Last year, Muchemi said the company would not renew its contract with the county government owing to bad politics and negative publicity the brand was attracting.

He, however, said he has no regrets over how things panned out, saying it was a good challenge.

“Moving a city form cash to cashless transactions is a big thing. It was a good challenge and helped us measure our skills, capacity and resilience,” said Muchemi.

“It used to take 90 days to obtain a licence. We digitised and moved to 30 minutes… that’s huge.”

He said the deal also helped in environmental conservation following the removal of paper tickets and also created jobs, with 47 per cent collections happening on agency points.

On the run-ins with politicians, he said they put him in “unfamiliar territory.”

“There’s a lot of politics. I’ve learnt that you can’t run away from it, and it sometimes hurts noble causes,” said Muchemi.

Despite severing ties with City Hall, JamboPay still provides services to other counties such as Meru, Bomet and some State parastatals.

He said after the accident, he’s adopted a new mantra of doing business with a “purpose.” Previously, he’d work up to 20 hours in a day, putting his health at risk.

And despite his firm having business continuity plans, lying on the hospital bed helped him put a lot of things into perspective.

“I had to think business beyond myself,” said Muchemi.

He said he had to appear in court for the cases despite his bad health and also had to deal with threats to his business. At one point, investigators had attempted to access his firm’s data servers.

“It was a painful moment balancing the legal burden with the business,” said Muchemi.

“The accident left a mark. I realised that the body is the most important asset you have as an entrepreneur.”

By Standard.co.ke

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Courts

Catholic Priest on death row sues State, challenging confession law

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Incarcerated Catholic priest Guyo Waqo Malley is back in court seeking to outlaw a law which gave him away for the murder of a colleague working in Isiolo.

Father Guyo alongside Adan Ibrahim Mohammed, Mohammed Molu Bagajo, Roba Balla Bariche and Mahati Ali Halake are serving time at Kamiti Prison after they were sentenced to death in 2014 for the murder of Father Luigi Lucati.

Father Lucati was killed on July 14, 2005. Their jailing followed a confession by Isaack Abdi Mohammed on how the plot to eliminate Lucati was hatched, failed several times and finally succeeded.

During the trial, the court found the four planned and actively participated in the murder of the Italian priest.

Six years into their sentence, Guyo, Mulo, Roba and Halake have filed a new case before the High Court arguing that confession rules are not applicable to trials in Kenya and.

According to the four, the Out of Court Confessions Rules, 2009, were passed by Parliament without consultations and should therefore be declared unconstitutional.

Spilled the beans

Ali spilled the beans, giving away the convicted priest and his accomplices in a video confession before Justice Weldon Korir who was in 2005 serving as a magistrate in Isiolo.

In their new filing, the four say the confession law is against the right to an accused person to remain silent and not to be forced to self-incriminate.

“It is apparent that in the circumstances that the taking, recording or admission of out of court confessions would be a gross violation of an arrested or an accused person’s rights to remain silent and not to be compelled to make a confession,” they argue in their case filed before High Court judge Anthony Murima.

They argue that the rules are inconsistent with the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2003 and which spell out that confessions or any admission to guilt by an accused person cannot be used against such person unless it is admitted before a court.

The four want the court to declare that the confession by Ali was against their right, hence their trial and conviction was unfair.

“The petitioners pray for a declaration that the confession evidence relied upon to found the conviction of the petitioners should be excluded under Article 50(4) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 as the admission rendered their trial fatally unfair,” they argued adding that the High Court had earlier directed the Attorney General to relook the Evidence Act in a bid to make amendments.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji is however opposed to the case and wants the court to dismiss it. According to Haji, the new case amounts to re-opening the criminal trial and would amount to the judge supervising his colleague.

He said that they had initially challenged the admissibility of the confession before the trial court and which then High Court judge Jackton Ojwang (now retired) dismissed their application and ordered the criminal case to proceed.

After the court sentenced Waqo, Mulo, Roba and Halake to death in 2014, they filed an appeal challenging the verdict. The appeal has not yet been heard.

Father Lucati died when a bullet entered through the right side of the shoulder, tore through the neck, shattered his jaw bones, and exited on the left side of his chin.

Former government pathologist John Njue told the trial court that the killer bullet must have been fired from a powerful gun. The priest died from a single shot.

by Standard.co.ke

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Courts

Businessman denies stealing Sh4.3m from his former employer

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A businessman who allegedly collected Sh4.3 million from his former employer’s debtors for himself has been charged with theft.

Franklin Oyomo Aluoch is accused of stealing the money from Phoenix Capital Limited on different dates between January 1 and August 31, 2020.

“On diverse dates between 1st January and 31st August at Phoenix Capital Limited within Nairobi County being a servant at Phoenix Capital Limited, stole 4,331,677 shillings the property of Phoenix Capital Limited,” the charges against him read.

The money came into Aluoch’s possession by virtue of his employment.

The suspect was the operations manager at the money-lending company and opened a similar company.

He then allegedly directed his employer’s clients to pay their loans to an account owned by his company.

DEATH THREATS

The accused denied the charge and claimed, through a lawyer, that his former boss Clement Onyango had threatened to kill him.

But the police officer investigating the case told Senior Resident Magistrate Sinkiyian Tobiko that he has no information regarding the alleged threats.

Aluoch pleaded for lenient bond terms, saying he has no source of income having been  fired by his former employer.

The accused was freed on a cash bail of Sh100,000 with the case set to be mentioned on November 3, 2020.

BY NN

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Courts

Form three girl charged with murder of 20-year-old boyfriend

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A form three girl aged 17 has been charged with murder after she allegedly stabbed her boyfriend to death.

The teenager who appeared before Justice Fred Ochieng today faced murder charges almost a month after she was held for the offense.

According to earlier police reports, the teenager was alleged to have stabbed her boyfriend under unclear circumstances.

“It is not clear what made the girl to stab Julius Odiwuor aged 20 at Polo area in Nyakach Sub-County,” police reports stated.

The girl, according to earlier reports went out to search for Odiwuor after she received word that the man insulted her.

She is said to have grabbed a kitchen knife when she went to look for him.

Odiwuor who is son to a senior police officer in Lamu was rushed to St. Joseph Nyabondo Mission Hospital and later referred to Kericho Referral Hospital where he died while undergoing treatment.

Anyango was arraigned two days later at Nyando Law Courts before Senior Principal Magistrate Samson Temu.

A DCI Officer, David Karanja, requested for more time to conduct and conclude investigations in order to get all the facts surrounding the murder.

“I have not completed investigations and I’m currently waiting for postmortem results of the deceased,” said Karanja.

He added that tension was high at the accused’s home in Nyakach at it would not be safe for her and that it would be good if they kept the girl in custody for 14 days.

Mr. Temu granted the DCI Officer 14 days to complete investigations before she could be arraigned.

During her arraignment, the girl told court that Odhiambo was her boyfriend.

“We are friends who had started dating,” she told the magistrate who asked her about her relationship with the deceased.

On September 23 when the teenager was arraigned at Kisumu High Court, the prosecution counsel, Varoline Lubanga asked that the minor be taken for an age assessment and a counsel that would represent her in the case be appointed.

She also asked that the minor be taken for a mental assessment and that she be remanded at a children’s remand home.

The court ordered that she be taken for COVID-19 test that would be facilitated by Pap Onditi OCS on the same day before being taken to a children’s home.

On Thursday, while appearing before Justice Fred Ochieng, the teenager was charged with murder of Odiwuor.

The charge sheet read that the teenager unlawfully killed Odiwuor on September 7, 2020 at Apoko market center in Nyakach Sub-County within Kisumu County.

She denied the charges that were read to her.

Her advocate pleaded for favorable bond terms considering that she was a minor.

However, the prosecution counsel opposed her release on bond.

Despite the opposition by the prosecution counsel, the court granted the minor a personal bond of Sh300, 000 with a surety.

Eight witnesses have been lined up for the prosecution of the case.

The case will be mentioned on October 29.

by standard

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