September 27, 2022

High Court Dismisses Application Summoning Rigathi Gachagua to Testify in Governor’s Death Inquest

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The High Court in Nyeri has quashed summons to Nyeri governor-elect, Mutahi Kahiga and deputy president-elect Rigathi Gachagua to testify in the inquest into the death of the late Nyeri governor, Dr Wahome Gakuru.

In a ruling on Thursday, Nyeri High Court judge, Justice Florence Muchemi said that the summons issued by the magistrate’s court for the two to appear as witnesses were irregularly issued and that statements by both Mr Kahiga and Mr Gachagua would not add any value to the public inquiry which is investigating circumstances that led to the death of Dr Gakuru in 2017.

“I have looked briefly at the statements of the applicants and I agree with the applicants in this application that the statements have no property value. The summoning of the applicants to court to testify in the inquest will not serve any useful purpose in my considered view,” said Justice Muchemi.  

“Considering the foregoing analysis, the court reaches a conclusion that the summons to the applicants which were issued on August 2, 2021 were irregularly issued. I also find that it was a misdirection by the magistrate to reject the objection that was raised by the counsel against the issue of summons that were issued on January 20, 2022 for the applicants to attend court and testify in the inquest,” she added.

The duo had on March 28 this year through their lawyer, Wahome Gikonyo, filed an appeal before Justice Muchemi seeking the court to revise a decision made on January 20 by Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi summoning them to appear as witnesses in the public inquiry.

Mr Andayi had directed that governor Kahiga and Mr Gachagua would give the inquest an opportunity to get facts about how governor Gakuru died.

The inquest was adjourned temporarily pending the outcome of the application by Kahiga and Gachagua, who are seeking a revision of orders summoning them to testify.

According to court documents, Gakuru’s family is seeking an explanation from governor Kahiga over his utterances during Gakuru’s requiem mass in November 2017 where he was quoted saying that he had warned the deceased against using his Mercedes Benz alleging it had a mechanical problem.

Gachagua, became a person of interest in the case after it emerged that Dr Gakuru had ordered an audit into the misuse of public funds during the tenure of his brother, Nderitu Gachagua.

Magistrate Andayi had also extended the orders to the Nyeri County Secretary Benjamin Gachichio and Paul Wambugu the Chief of Staff who were responsible for assigning the governor’s staff.

In his submission, Wahome Gikonyo, who was appearing for Mr Kahiga and Mr Gachagua had argued thatthere was no basis for summoning the two because the application to summon them had been made by a lawyer from the bar.

According to Gikonyo, the lawyer who was holding brief for Dhamana Africa (lawyers representing Dr Gakuru’s family) went against the laid down procedure for inviting somebody who had not recorded statements with the police during their investigations.

Gikonyo had further argued that none of the 17 witnesses called to testify in the matter had adversely mentioned either Mr Kahiga or Mr Gachagua in their testimonies.

Following the ruling, the inquest has been referred back to the Chief Magistrate for the remaining witness who was the investigating officer to present his evidence.

The matter will be mentioned on September 1, 2022.

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