Forged valuation document that revealed rot at City Hall

By Alex Ndegwa

The Sh290-million cemetery saga first emerged after a parliamentary committee tabled the report in Parliament last week.

The committee revealed that corrupt officials involved in the fraudulent purchase of cemetery land at Sh290 million forged a report purporting that the land was valued at Sh325 million.

This week the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) released a damning report implicating Local Government Minister Musalia Mudavadi, PS Sammy Kirui and Nairobi City Council of (NCC) Mayor Godfrey Majiwa in the scandal.

The Commission claimed Nelson Osiemo, a lawyer, picked Sh59 million on their behalf with Majiwa receiving Sh11 million.

The report in Parliament revealed that a bogus Ministry of Lands employee identified as Mr A Otieno, signed for the Deputy Commissioner of Lands blatantly fleecing the public.

The Ministry of Lands later stated that the 120-acre piece of land was valued at only Sh24 million.

The forged valuation, however, increased the money to over Sh2 million per acre as alleged in the forged valuation certificate.

"On the face of it, the letter is a forgery as evidenced by so many omissions and commissions," A M Itui, the Deputy Commissioner of Lands (Valuation) wrote to the Controller and Auditor General on March 10, this year.

A report on the procurement of cemetery land by NCC tabled in Parliament on Thursday by the Departmental Committee on Local Authorities exposed the shocking details.

The February Special Audit Report by the Controller and Auditor General described the procurement process for the land as poor and asked the Lands ministry to confirm the authenticity of the valuation report.

Curiously, the valuation report was dated November 10, 2008, three days before the Lands ministry wrote to NCC on November 13 to facilitate inspection of the property for valuation.

"The same is still outstanding as there has been no response since," Mr Itui wrote.

Said Itui: "The Valuation Division did not have a Valuation Officer by the name A. Otieno either in the Headquarters or in the district offices who has purported to sign for Deputy Commissioner Lands Valuation."

He pointed out that the title Deputy Commissioner Lands Valuation was erroneous since official documents from the Ministry were signed as Deputy Commissioner of Lands (Valuation). The standard form of communication of the valuation figure could have included a comprehensive valuation report and not a letter bearing a figure, as was the case with the fake letter.

The ministry’s letterhead used for the letter- Ministry of Lands and Settlement was no longer in use since the correct ones are titled Ministry of Lands.

Itui therefore disowned the letter of valuation Ref. 156708 of November 10, 2008 as a forgery and not emanating from this office.

In late 2008 NCC sought the 120 acres in Athi River at Sh283.2 million as an alternative site to Lang’ata cemetery that has filled up.