A veteran attorney has sued two businessmen, seeking compensation for alleged harm and injury following forgery charges brought against him in 2014 by the state.
Stephen Oyugi Okello claims what happened between 2014, when he was charged, and 2021, when he was acquitted, was an injustice that would have cost his career, his reputation and his life as a family.
In his High Court case against businessmen Ashraf Savani, Madatali Chatur and Right End Properties Limited, Mr Okello is seeking more than 25 million shillings as compensation for what he claims was a set-up.
He claims the charges cost him his 30-plus year career in addition to affecting his life, wife and children.
He also wants the court to order the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to re-investigate the case and charge everyone involved.
The lawyer is asking for 15 million shillings plus 14% interest a year from March 5, 2011, the legal fees he paid his lawyers to defend him in eight cases that arose after the lawsuit.
He also wants 10.2 million shillings in legal fees for the 68 days he allegedly lost appearing in court for the criminal case.
Okello claims he was charged and prosecuted for another person’s crimes.
He lined up his wife, his pastor and an attorney who represented him and bailed him out in the criminal case as witnesses.
“The experience that I went through by the defendants harmed my health, my emotional well-being, my social stability and my professional status. I lost friends because no well-meaning member of the society cannot trust a fraudster and a criminal as I have been described as such,” says Okello.
He says that on January 29, 2011, he received a letter from Right End Properties Limited asking him to collect paperwork to be filed and registered at the lands office.
Okello, in his case, says the documents included a grant as well as a completed application for registration forms, stamp duty, rent and rate receipts, rate release certificate and consent to the transfer.
According to him, Savani invited him to a meeting at the Diamond Plaza in Highridge, Nairobi, and the businessman asked him to collect the documents from another law firm. They agreed that the fee was 70,000 shillings as his role was limited to presenting and filing the documents. He received 20,000 shillings as a down payment.
The lawyer says the only features missing from the application form given to him were a signature, date and address.
“I have, under the circumstances, filled in my mailing address, and the date and put my signature on said application form,” he said, adding that it was in the presence of Chatur’s agent.
Okello says that on March 1, 2011, he received a call from DCI in the Nairobi area regarding a forgery case.
He says the police showed him transfer documents purporting to be from him and asked him to write a statement. He says that at the police station he was shocked to find a falsified court order and a notice to withdraw a caution said to have come from his law firm.
“I denied knowledge of the said documents in my statement, except for the first request dated January 30, 2011, which I had processed,” he said.
Things were quiet until March 3, 2014, when he was summoned by the DCI and then charged on March 5, 2014 with forgery.
Okello claims Savani and Chatur did not return his calls afterward. He says the two businessmen should have told the police the truth behind the documents.
The lawyer says he filed a complaint to quash his charges and then High Court Judge Weldon Korir observed there was no evidence to link him to the forgery .
The case will be discussed on January 17, 2023.