Embattled Kenyan football boss quits

02 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
Embattled Kenyan football boss quits Nick Mwendwa

The Herald

NAIROBI. — Nick Mwendwa, who has been the most powerful man in Kenyan football for the last five years, quit his post as the federation’s head on Monday, on the day he was presented in court to answer corruption charges. 

The court barred Mwendwa, for the second time in weeks, from visiting the Kenya Football Federation offices, after he was charged with conspiracy to defraud the organisation of Sh38 million (about US$337 700). 

“While I am confident I will be cleared of any wrong doing in the end, I have today in accordance with Article 42 (8) of the FKF constitution (2017) asked my vice president, Madam Doris Petra, to assume all functions of the FKF president,” his letter read. 

It was a bad day for Mwendwa, who had hoped to stop the charges, but senior principal magistrate Eunice Nyutu dismissed his application, opening the way for the charges of fraudulent acquisition of public property and conspiracy to commit a corruption offence. 

“He is forbidden from accessing Football Kenya Federation offices, contacting or interfering with any of the witnesses and to deposit his passport in court as a condition for his release,” ruled Nyutu. 

Mwendwa denied the four counts, in which he is alleged to have committed the offences, between March and May this year.

On one count, the ex-FKF boss was charged with conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption, where it was alleged that he, jointly with others not before court, conspired to defraud Football Kenya Federation Sh29,502,709 between April 16 2021 and May 31 2021. 

The other charges stated that on March 4 Mwendwa fraudulently acquired Sh5 million, which were public funds, allocated to FKF. 

He is alleged to have committed a similar offence on May 15, when he fraudulently acquired Sh2.5 million and another Sh1 million from FKF, on May 6. 

He had challenged the charges on grounds that his arrest and prosecution violated his rights to fair trial under the Sports Act and the prosecution acted in bad faith by arresting him soon after the court closed another application which sought to detain him for 14 days. 

But, the magistrate ruled that the Sports Act does not bar the Director of Public Prosecution from preferring charges against any federation official accused of embezzling public funds. 

“There is a sports dispute tribunal which deals with all disputes relating to sports and if he believes the government audit report was illegal then he can challenge it at the tribunal but not try to block this case which is criminal in nature and properly investigated by the authorities,” ruled Nyutu. 

The magistrate further dismissed Mwendwa’s claims that the charges emanated from the FKF audit report, stating that the charge sheet showed he was investigated by the Director of Criminal Investigation for misappropriating funds meant to develop football in the country. According to the magistrate, the state did not act in bad faith by preferring the charges against Mwendwa since nothing barred them from pressing the charges after concluding investigations. 

“It is a fact that the prosecution had filed an application to detain him pending investigations and the application was closed. However, that did not mean that the court issued a permanent order stopping his arrest and prosecution,” ruled Nyutu. She also dismissed Mwendwa’s claims that the matter of his ouster from the federation was pending before the High Court, ruling that civil proceedings can run concurrently with criminal cases. 

She scheduled December 20 for a hearing of the case. 

In a letter to FKF’s national executive committee members, Mwendwa stated he was handing over the reins to Petra because he felt “personally targeted” by his arrest and the subsequent charges, which he denies. 

“In light of the frequent arrests and detentions, which have adversely affected my family and personal business, and whilst I am confident I will be cleared of any wrong doing in the end, I have asked my vice president Madam Doris Petra to assume all functions of the FKF president,” Mwendwa wrote. 

“My decision has been arrived at with the federation’s best interest at heart.” 

Mwendwa had been head of the FKF since 2016. The case against Mwendwa comes while a government-appointed caretaker committee continues to run football in Kenya.

Sports Minister Amina Mohamed took the decision last month, stating that the FKF had “failed to account for all the monies allocated to it by the government”. 

Among the terms of his bail, Mwendwa has been instructed to deposit his passport with the court and is forbidden from accessing FKF offices. 

This week’s court appearances come a fortnight after Mwendwa was released on bail after a previous arrest. — The Standard/BBC Sport

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