The Principal Secretary (PS) for State Department for Shipping and Maritime, Nancy Karigithu has been sued by a senior manager of Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).
Karigithu has been sued for, among other offences, colluding with shippers to deny the government revenue resulting in more than Sh3 billion between 2012-2015 in uncollected merchant shipping fees.
Mr Cosmas Kiplagat Cherop, the current KMA Director of Corporate Support Services, also accuses Mrs Karigithu of overseeing the fraudulent purchase of Plot L.R. Number MSA/BLOCK XLVIII/128 in which the Government astonishingly paid Sh195,000,000.00 to buy land it already owns through Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC).
Cosmas wants the High Court to declare Mrs Karigithu unfit to hold public office for contravening Chapter Six of the Constitution and other written laws.
The case dates back to 2015 when the petitioner, Mr Cosmas, replaced Mrs Karigithu in acting capacity as the KMA Director General (DG) from May 2015 – March 2018.
Mrs Karigithu spent nine years (April 2006 – May 2015) as KMA DG. She was subsequently appointed in December 2015 as PS in charge of KMA, despite an adverse report on her presented by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to the Parliamentary Committee that vetted her.
According to the petitioner, since Mrs Karigithu’s appointment as PS, there existed a toxic relationship with KMA where she is reported to have micromanaged the authority and sabotaged its management in diverse ways.
Cosmas, in his Constitutional Petition No. 35 of 2021 dated December 10, 2021, accuses Mrs Karigithu of pursuing a personal vendetta against him since 2015 and violated his fundamental constitutional rights.
He also claims Mrs Karigithu has held a personal vendetta against him after the KMA Board of Directors in May 2015 refused to grant her request for a contract extension as KMA DG and instead appointed Cosmas in the acting capacity.
Further, Cosmas claims his Petition originates from the June 2020 decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to charge him and 5 other KMA employees for alleged offenses relating to procurement.
The charges resulted from an EACC investigation requested by PS Karigithu. The basis of the said charges is the correction of arithmetic errors in some 2015-2016 tenders whose evaluation the KMA Tender Evaluation Committee conducted.
Cosmas claims the then applicable law, that allowed the Evaluation Committee to correct arithmetic errors, was the now revoked Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005. However, the DPP and EACC contend that the then applicable law was the newly enacted Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015.
Consequently, Cosmas avows that despite the EACC finding no loss of money, the DPP nonetheless charged him for “almost losing public money” hence terms the charges as malicious and a witch hunt perpetrated by the DPP and EACC with the instructions of PS Karigithu.
According to Cosmas, the war on corruption has been weaponized by the EACC and DPP and he is just a victim. For instance, he claims there have been numerous complaints of corruption leveled against PS Karigithu yet none has been investigated.
In documents in our possession, Cosmas also claims that the “special Magistrate” trying him is not appointed under the Constitution hence violates his fundamental constitutional rights to fair hearing as guaranteed under Article 50(2)(d).
In the petition, Cosmas avows that the Chief Justice lacks Constitutional power to appoint “special Magistrates” to try corruption and economic crimes under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003 (ACECA) as the Constitutional power to appoint Magistrates vests only with the Judicial Service Commission.
The petition was first mentioned before Hon. Justice John Onyiego, on 26 February 2021 and was set for hearing on March 24, 2021. The respondents however requested the judge to set a new hearing date for May 21, 2021.
In an incident in September last year, PS Karigithu was put on the spot for the rot in the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).
Sources familiar with the goings-on told Kahawa Tungu that the state agency has been suffocating under PS Karigithu.
Reports indicated that immediately after her appointment, the disgruntled PS started fighting the KMA Board and the then-acting DG Cosmas Cherop.
The PS was accused of attending all board meetings and micro-managing the board hence it was unable to make independent decisions.