Christopher Murungaru vs Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission & Another 2006

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Christopher Murungaru vs Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission & Another 2006Christopher Murungaru vs Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission & Another 2006 case centered around the plaintiff, Mr. Chris Murungaru who was suspected of corruption and economic crimes. On January 22, 2006, John Githongo named Christopher Murungaru as one of three top politicians (along with Kiraitu Murungi and David Mwiraria) as being involved in the Anglo Leasing Scandal involving up to $600M. President Kibaki allowed the Kenya Anti-Corruption Chief Aaron Ringera to request Murungaru to declare and account for his wealth. The Commission believed that Dr. Christopher Murungaru had become too rich too quickly and was keen to investigate the source of his wealth, especially in relation to the Anglo Leasing Scandal financial scam.

KACC compelled Mr. Murungaru to produce a statement of property pursuant to section 26 of the Ant Corruption and Economic Crimes Act No. 3 of 2003. The statement was to include a list of property owned and specify how the property was acquired. Dr. Christopher “Chris” Murungaru defied the notice and on February 17, 2006, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) arraigned him in a Nairobi court charging him with failing to declare and account for his wealth.

In the case of Christopher Murungaru vs Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission & Another 2006, Murungaru petitioned the high court to prevent the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission from investigating. He stated that fulfilling the commission’s request would amount to self-incrimination.The plaintiff, through his lawyer Paul Muite, stated that compelling him to give these statements was unconstitutional. It infringed on his constitutional presumption of innocence and sought to impose an obligation on a citizen to investigate himself and provide them with evidence that could potentially incriminate themselves. His statements were set out on 3 pillars of fundamental rights:

  1. Presumption of innocence.
  2. Right to silence.
  3. Right not to be compelled to self-incriminate.

In the case of Christopher Murungaru vs Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission & Another 2006,the respondents, KACC, stated that the Anti Corruption and Economics Crimes Act of 2003 in question gives them investigatory and crime-detection powers that enable an effective investigation necessary for success in the fight against corruption. Sections 26,27 and 28 of the Act empower KACC;

  1. To require a person who is reasonably suspected of corruption or economic crime to provide a written statement of his/her property and to explain how he/she acquired such property
  2. To call upon an associate of a person reasonably suspected of corruption or economic crime to provide a written statement of his/her property
  3. To obtain records and information as required for purposes of a criminal investigation

In the case of Christopher Murungaru vs Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission & Another 2006 the high court ruled in favor of the petitioner. On December 1, 2006, the High Court determined that KACC’s notice to Murungaru was not carried out according to the laid down law which subsequently led to the High Court quashing KACC’s case against Murungaru. The court held that the notice was incompetent because under Section 26, the Act is specific to the person reasonably suspected of corruption and economic crime.

It was incompetent because it was not specific on the time when suspected acts of corruption or economic crimes were committed. It was also incompetent because it was vague. To what property or assets does it refer to? Fundamentally the notice should have specified the time frame to which alleged acts of corruption and economic crimes relate. For instance, specify that the information required is for the period he was elected as Hon. Member of Parliament or appointment to Cabinet, and not include his private life before he came to power. Therefore, KACC had no power to compel Mr Chris Murungaru.

“Lastly, before we leave the matter, Professor Muigai told us that their strongest point on the motion before us is the public interest. We understood him to be saying that the Kenyan public is very impatient with the fact that cases involving corruption or economic crimes hardly go on in the Courts because of the applications like the one we are dealing with. Our short answer to Professor Muigai is this. We recognize and we are well aware of the fact that the public has a legitimate interest in seeing that crime, of whatever nature, is detected, prosecuted and adequately punished, the Constitution of the Republic is a reflection of the supreme public interest and its provisions must be upheld by the Courts, sometimes even to the annoyance of the public and the only institution charged with the duty to interpret the provisions is the High Court and where permissible, with an appeal to the Court of Appeal. Since the Kenyan nation has chosen the path of democracy rather than dictatorship, the Courts must stick to the rule of law even if the public may in any particular case want a contrary thing and even if those who are mighty and powerful might ignore the Court’s decisions since occasionally those who have been mighty and powerful are the ones who would run and seek the protection of the Courts when circumstances have changed…The courts must continue to give justice to all and sundry irrespective of their status or former status.”