Senators want Matiangi, Kipsang prosecuted over Ruaraka land scam

Education PS Belio Kipsang. [Jenipher Wachie/Standard]
A parliamentary report has recommended that two top State officials be held responsible for the loss of the Sh1.5 billion Ruaraka land payout.

The Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee (CPAIC) also wants investigations to be launched against Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang.

“The CS and PS be held responsible and further investigated, and if found culpable be prosecuted for occasioning the loss of Sh1.5 billion in line with Article 226(5) of the Constitution,” reads part of the report.

The Senator Moses Kajwang’-led committee criticised Matiang’i and Kipsang for ignoring the recommendations of a report of the ministry’s Quality Assurance and Standards Assessment that established the land was public.

In addition, the committee recommended that Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission should within three months probe the circumstances that led Matiang’i and Kipsang to ignore the ministry’s report.

No recommendations

However, the report contradicts another done by the National Assembly’s Lands Committee, which did not make any recommendations on Matiang’i’s role in the saga.

The senators also zeroed in on the National Lands Commission (NLC) officials led by its chairman Muhammad Swazuri, CEO Tom Chavangi, vice chair Abigael Mukolwe, Commissioner Tom Konyimbih and director Salome Munubi, among others.

Three companies, Whispering Palms Ltd, Afrison Export Import Ltd and Huelands Limited, were also not spared as the report recommended the recovery of the funds paid, and stopped any further payments in relation to land surrendered for public utilities.

The senators tasked the DCI, DPP and anti-graft agency to recover the Sh1.5 billion from the firms, terming it a fraudulent claim paid by the NLC.

“The DCI and DPP should prosecute, if found culpable, directors of the three companies for making false claims on the ownership of the land resulting in the payment of Sh1.5 billion to Whispering Palms Estate without a duly executed deed of indemnity,” the Senate report further read.

Title deed

It continued: “NLC should compel the person having possession of the title deed to surrender it to the Registrar of Government Land as per Section 121 of the Lands Act.”

The senators also recommended that the investigating agencies probe and prosecute the NLC officers if found culpable.

“The officials and any other persons that the investigations may find culpable for being part of the payment for acquiring 13.7701 acres for Drive-in Primary and Ruaraka High schools contrary to the principles of the Public Finance under Article 210 should be prosecuted,” reads the report.

Munubi was accused of misleading the NLC on the compensation to be paid for the schools by more than Sh426 million, which was a 15 percent statutory disturbance allowance of the Sh3.3 billion land price, despite not been applicable at the time of valuation as per the repealed Land Acquisition Act.

“The NLC failed to carry out due diligence in the process of compulsory acquisition in accordance with the law,” observed the committee.

Further, the senators sought prosecution of J. W Gitau, an officer with the Nairobi City County, for giving false information on the cancellation of the subdivision plan of the land in question and possible collusion to defraud taxpayers.

While giving their submissions to the committee, Kenya Revenue Authority officials testified that the three companies which were paid for the land were not registered with it and were not tax complaint at the time.

To mitigate any inconveniences to learners and teachers in the two schools, the committee asked the Education ministry to take measures to protect them from any harassment occasioned by their occupation of the controversial land.

Freeze accounts

In an earlier report, the National Assembly’s Land committee accused the EACC of failing to avert the loss of funds by failing to act on time to freeze the accounts of the beneficiaries pending the conclusion of investigations.

Treasury was also censured for having authorised the payment without express request from the Ministry of Education, which was the acquiring ministry.

The owners of the land, Afrison Export Import and Huelands Ltd, had demanded that they be paid Sh3.2b for the entire property.

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