Meru Finance CEC arrested over Sh600 million court award to firm

Meru Finance Executive Ibrahim Mutwiri was arrested after the county failed to pay over Sh600 million owed to Leopard Rock Mico Limited which used to manage Leopard Rock Lodge in the Meru National Park.

French hotelier, Michel Dechaufour was 'illegally' evicted from the park in 2018 during the tenure of former Governor Kiraitu Murungi but argued that the lease between the hotel and Nyambene County Council in 2008 was to expire on January 1, 2034.

The Meru High Court agreed with the hotelier and he was awarded Sh500 million which has accrued interest.

During the arbitration, the hotel owner was awarded Sh329,633,985, being costs of facilities built, Sh7,436,5000 cost of assorted movable assets together with an interest at 14 percent per year from March 8, 2019, till payment is made in full plus costs of the proceedings.

Former Meru Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu who also doubled as Finance Executive said they were only executing an eviction notice issued to the hotel during the tenure of Meru’s first Governor Peter Munya.

The interest continued to accrue for over five years leading to Mr Mutwiri's arrest for contempt of court.

Governor Kawira Mwangaza indicated that her administration would plead for the amount to be reduced or for the county to be allowed to pay gradually.

“I was arrested in connection with a suit by Leopard Rock, a hotel that belongs to a French. The hotel was closed by the Kiraitu Murungi regime. The investor was awarded Sh600 million which is half of our pending bills (Sh1.2b). If we pay, we shall not be able to undertake development projects in Meru,” Mutwiri said during a press briefing.

He said he would have spent three days in the police cells had it not been for the intervention of the governor. The CEC said he risks jail term if the county fails to honour the court award to the firm.

“If we pay the Sh600 million, Meru residents are not going to benefit from any development project," he said

Mutwiri pointed an accusing finger at Kiraitu’s regime for the eviction of Leopard Rock Hotel.  “That is the damage they caused to the people of Meru because the Sh600 million must be paid no matter what we do,” he said.

Mwangaza said she would not pay pending bills that would deny residents development.

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