A Nairobi court has acquitted ICT and Digital Economy Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dennis Itumbi involving a case he was accused of forging a letter in 2019 alleging of a plot to assassinate president William Ruto, then serving as the Deputy President.
Itumbi had been charged with authoring and circulating a fake assassination letter against Ruto.
While discharging the criminal charges against Itumbi and his co-accused Samuel Gateri, Milimani Chief Magistrate Susan Shitubi ruled that the section under which the two were charged was unconstitutional.
“It is very unfortunate that l am acquitting the accused persons at the tail end of the hearing of the case. However, the law allows me to acquit the accused if it emerges the section under which they were charged was unconstitutional. I will therefore proceed to acquit the two accused persons under section 87(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code,” Magistrate Shitubi ruled.
In the case, Itumbi faced three counts including making a false document, publishing a false statement, and reprogramming his mobile phone. He denied all the charges.
The letter Itumbi was accused of forging claimed that a group of high-ranking government officials in former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government held a meeting at La Mada Hotel, off Thika Road in Nairobi to plan the alleged assassination of Ruto.
Itumbi would later be arrested and charged over the said letter which was found to have been shared in a WhatsApp Group dubbed Tanga Tanga movement.
Under section 87(b) of the CPC, the court can acquit a suspect who has been put on his defence in a criminal case.
The magistrate, however, gave the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) 14 days to appeal.
The decision to drop the charges was protested by the office of the DPP, who said the move was illegal and an “ambush”.
“You honour we oppose the application by the defence to withdraw the charges on the basis that it is an ambush to the DPP and we need time to respond on the same,” the state prosecutor submitted.
Itumbi, through his lawyers Katwa Kigen and Adrian Kamotho, urged the court to drop the charges against them saying the section under which they were charged was unconstitutional.
“You honour the charges facing the accused persons herein are defective as they are stipulated under section 66 of the penal code which was declared unconstitutional by the High Court in the case filed by blogger Cyprian Nyakundi. We there seek you adopt the same and discharge the accused.” Lawyer Katwa Kigen said.
The new development comes days after the court on Wednesday, June 7 adjourned the defence hearing to July 28, 2023, after the DPP said he could not proceed with the case as the police file was not availed in court.
Itumbi, a famous blogger at the time and now serving as CAS in the Ministry of ICT, was found with a case to answer and placed on his defence in 2022 after the court ruled that the prosecution had proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Witnesses who testified in the case claim that police investigations established the post, which was circulated on social media, was sent from Gateri’s cell phone number.
Itumbi and Gateri had been charged with publishing a false statement, contrary to Section 66(1) of the Penal Code.
They had denied that on or before June 20, 2019, at an unknown place, they published a letter dated May 30 2018, with intent to cause anxiety to the general public.