EACC links tycoon and county staff to land saga
By Roselyne Obala
| January 11th 2020
The anti-graft agency has forwarded names of 14 people to the Director Public Prosecution Noordin Haji for prosecution over the controversial sale of Sh110 million public land.
The parcel of land in South C is at the centre of a protracted war between Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
Mr Sonko has publicly accused the anti-graft agency of colluding with a city tycoon, Isaack Abdullahi Ibrahim.
Real estate tycoons, brokers and Nairobi County government employees face prosecution over the property that originally belonged to the defunct Nairobi City Council.
The people and entities EACC wants prosecuted are John Kibira, Stephen Gathuita Mwangi, Cecilia Wangari Koigu, Cewako Agencies, Jane Wangari Kariuki, Mary Gakenia, Stephen Kiranki Kanyaana, Beatrice Kangu, Eric Kangu, Jermblu Agencies, Titus Gatito Karioki, Abdirashid Maalim Dakane, James Karanja Mwangi and Ibrahim.
According to investigations, Mr Kibira and his wife Mary Gekenia, who were the vendors, allegedly received Sh8.25 million while Stephen Mwangi (County Chief Officer Lands), who approved survey works and forwarded them to Director of Survey, received Sh10.35 million.
Others beneficiaries include Kibira’s advocate James Mwangi, who allegedly pocketed Sh3.9 million; Cewako Electricals/ Cecilia Wangari (Nairobi City Council surveyor) who did survey works got Sh6 million and the broker Stephen Kariuki was paid 4.25 million.
Also in trouble are Chartwell Holdings Limited (the company where Karanja Mwangi advocate purchased an office) that allegedly received Sh1.72 million, Jermblu Company Limited/Eric Kangu (broker and brokerage Beatrice Kangu mother of Eric) who allegedly got Sh6 million, Jane Wangari Karuiki who received Sh 1 million.
Others listed are Titus Gatito and Dakane who investigators claim pocked Sh500,000 each.
When contacted, the County Chief Officer Lands Stephen Mwangi who is alleged to have received Sh10.35 million as kickbacks, curtly responded: “No comment.” It is alleged that he forwarded the money to the Director of Surveys.
Ms Wangari admitted recording a statement with EACC but denied any wrong doing.
“Cewako Electricals is still operating. I was a junior officer then I don’t know about the Sh6 million paid for the survey works,” she said.
Jane Karuiki said she was a secretary to the advocate at City Hall.
“The advocate was working for Kibira. I am a farmer and I helped to pay hospital bills for a relative. The person didn’t pay back the money, so when the money was paid, it was deposited in my account. I told EACC as much, I don’t know about the land,” she explained.
Mr Titus Gatito, a broker in the deal who received Sh500,000 denied knowledge of the matter. “No. I don’t know,” he said.
Beatrice Kangu also denied knowledge of any deal, but admitted being questioned by EACC. "I don’t know anything. My name and son could have been included by mistake. I asked the commission to deal with my lawyer.”
Ibrahim and Kibira didn’t respond to calls or text messages. Mr Kanyaana distanced himself from any payment.
Mwangi, the lawyer who represented Kibira, said he was paid Sh3.9 million in legal fees.
EACC now wants the land owner alongside 13 others to be charged with graft following complaints lodged on July 23, 2018 by residents of Mugoya estate led by their traders Naomi Ndonga and Ranjana Bharji.
The EACC faulted county officials for irregularly allocating the parcel of land, Nairobi/Block 103/793 to a private developer who subsequently transferred the same, a public land that had been allocated by the Ministry of Lands to the defunct Nairobi City Council.
Investigators found that the developer started construction of a multi-storey building on a wetland designated as public land in South C.
Ibrahim is under probe for fraudulent acquisition of the parcel of land adjacent to the defunct Nakumatt, presently Naivas Supermarket.
“The parcel of land borders Mugoya estate and is just metres away from Popo Road. It is alleged that the subject on assuming ownership of the land relocated a high frequency communication mast belonging to Safaricom Limited next to homestead exposing the locals to radiation,” stated an EACC detective aware of the probe.
Residents claim that there was no public participation prior to acquisition of the land by the developer as provided for in law.
The developer allegedly obtained signatures of residents of the nearby Olive estate and used the same in National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and county particulars, claiming that there was public participation.
“The wetland was meant for the electricity way leave and drainage,” said EACC official.
Sonko claimed that the EACC director was shielding the developer, a reason why the case has dragged.
“The public property was acquired illegally. My problem with EACC is the director who is a partner to the mall owner in South C. I have shared the evidence with them,” Sonko claimed recently.
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