Is suspended Lands CS Charity Ngilu back in office?

NAIROBI: Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu Wednesday left for France to attend a United Nations conference, raising questions whether she was the country’s representative and in what capacity.

Ngilu left Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Tuesday night to attend the sixth Leaders’ Council Meeting for the Sustainable Development Solution Network, an agent of the UN in France.

She tweeted and said the meeting was discussing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and looking into how to finance sustainable development goals for the world and Kenya.

“Today, I depart for the sixth Leaders’ Council Meeting for the Sustainable Development Solution Network. The meeting will be composed of political leaders, civil society members, private sector partners and those in the academia.”

“This year’s meeting is to discuss MDGs and to look into how to finance sustainable development goals for the world and in my case, Kenya,” said Ngilu.

Ngilu is among five Cabinet secretaries who were suspended over graft allegations. She has since been cleared on one case and two others are pending. It’s not clear if she was attending the session as a government minister, political leader or member of the civil society.

And even if she travelled in her personal capacity, given that a suspended Cabinet secretary is a member of Cabinet, President Uhuru Kenyatta would have to clear her for such an engagement.

The development raised questions about whether Ngilu had been cleared to resume her duties as a cabinet secretary.

Ghana forum

“Ngilu travelled in her private capacity and it has nothing to do with the Government,” said State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu when contacted by The Standard.

“On her current status, it requires that she seeks clearance so that it is known where she is and yes, she sought that and the Chief of Staff (Joseph Kinyua)  granted it,” added Esipisu.

Acting Lands CS Fred Matiang’i also said he was not aware of any official trip that required representation from the ministry.

The CS was in Murang’a County to listen to warring parties over the disputed Kihiu Mwiri Land Company.

“I am not aware of any trip or Ministry of Lands and Housing officials. The only forum we have is in Accra, Ghana, on housing,” Matiang’i said adding that ordinarily, the ministry would have booked Ngilu’s ticket and paid for her travel costs if she was going on official duty.

Ngilu’s closed case involved the State-planned purchase of land from Likoni businessman Evanson Waitiki.

Her other two files on the State House Crescent land and land in Karen are still under probe by the EACC.

The other CSs who are on suspension are Kazungu Kambi (Labour), Davies Chirchir (Energy), Michael Kamau (Transport) and Felix Koskei (Agriculture).

EACC detectives have so far grilled four principle secretaries, two senators, 12 governors, and 11 senior Ggovernment officials who include heads of parastatals.