Ruaraka saga: Ministry paid Sh1.5b for public land

Auditor-General Edward Ouko (pictured) has revealed how the Government paid Sh1.5 billion to an individual for its own land.

Mr Ouko, in an audit report, now blames top officials in the Education ministry for ignoring documents showing the 13.5-acre where Ruaraka High and Drive Inn Primary schools sit had been surrendered for public utility.

“Had due diligence been observed by all parties in the whole transaction, compensation for the land that ought to have been surrendered for public utilities should have not occurred,” says the latest report tabled in the National Assembly.

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The city land was acquired by the National Land Commission (NLC) on behalf of the ministry.

Ouko says Afrison Export Import Ltd and Huelands Ltd, firms associated with businessman Francis Mburu, applied for a sub-division of the land in 1984.

The director of city planning in Nairobi is said to have given Mr Mburu a conditional sub-division approval where the land owner was to set aside land for public utilities.

Under the spotlight

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The report says the developer later declined to carry out sub-division but proceeded to develop the land, contrary to the provisions of the Physical Planning Act of 1999.

The latest development could once again put Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang under the spotlight since the transactions were done when they were both at the helm of the ministry.

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The report findings buttress a ruling by justices Bernard Eboso, Elijah Obaga and Kossy Bor of the Environment and Land Court, who ruled that the city land was public property and should not have been paid for.

The three judges had blamed the NLC, then chaired by Muhammad Swazuri, for not carrying out due diligence in ascertaining Mburu’s claim of historical injustices.

As a result, the commission ended up making the wrong recommendations to the Education ministry.

The ministry is also in trouble for paying Sh269 million in subsidies to 185 secondary schools whose enrollment data was inflated. The report revealed that two non-existent schools in Kakamega received a total Sh27.3 million.

Officials from the State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education explained that the officers involved in manipulating the numbers had been interdicted.

The matter has also been referred to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation and action.

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Auditor-General Edward OukoNational Land CommissionEthics and Anti-Corruption CommissionRuaraka Land