Lugari MP Savula, former PS deny graft charges;released on bail

Lugari MP Ayub Savula and former ICT PS Sammy Itemere (first, second top row) in court. (PHOTO/ODPP)
Lugari MP Ayub Savula and former ICT PS Sammy Itemere (first, second top row) in court. (PHOTO/ODPP)

Lugari MP Ayub Savula and his two wives Melody Ringera and Hellen Kemboi were released on a bond of Kshs 1 million with a surety of the same amount or an alternative cash bail of Kshs 500,000 each after they denied conspiracy charges in court. Savula, together with other twenty-nine accused persons-including seven companies and former Information PS Sammy Ishiundu Itemere, former Government Advertising Agency (GAA) boss Dennis Chebitwey, are facing charges including conspiring to fraudulently obtain Kshs 122,335,500 from the Ministry of ICT. Other accused persons who were present also denied charges.

Also listed in the charge sheet were the seven companies which were to receive the payments, with Savula noted as the director. “The second accused person also appears as the director for the 24th to 30th accused persons and cumulatively, that is from the 24th to 30th, the second accused person will pay a sum of Kshs 500,000,” said chief magistrate Francis Andayi. Andayi ordered them to deposit their travel documents including passports.

A call for investigations to be done on the ICT Ministry and the Government Advertising Agency back in August, which handles the government’s advertisement and media services, led to the current arrests with former top officials implicated. The GAA owes media houses more than Kshs 2.5 million after procuring various advertising services, but it allegedly channels money to other ghost companies, a situation that had fuelled complaints from different media houses. The Lugari MP was arrested on Friday and taken to the DCI headquarters, while Itemere was taken in on Sunday, ahead of Monday’s court arraignment.

According to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the charges Savula faces include obtaining money by false pretence contrary to section 313 of the penal code, conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to section 393 of the penal code. The DPP said he is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence of fraudulent advertisement and payment of Kshs 122,335,500 to Ayub Savula, Melody Gatwiri Ringera, Hellen Jepkorir Kemboi and the seven companies which are; The Sunday Publishers Limited, Melsav Company Limited, Johnnewton Communications, The Express Media Company, No Burns Protection Agencies Limited, Cross Continents Ventures Limited and Shieldlock Limited. The DPP added that he was satisfied that the then PS, State Department of Broadcasting and Telecommunications in the ICT Ministry approved the payment to the aforementioned persons and companies.