EACC recovers Sh3.2 billion prime property in Eldoret

An aerial view of Eldoret town. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has recovered Sh3.2 billion prime public property grabbed by powerful individuals in Eldoret town.

EACC said the prime land was grabbed by powerful land grabbers working in cahoots with some government officials.

Judiciary houses hosting a judge and other judicial officers near the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) Eldoret, Administration Police (AP) line, Uasin Gishu District hospital, County Assembly (the construction site of the proposed new chambers) and fire station are among the property recovered.

EACC North Rift deputy director Charles Rasugu said the recovered assets were part of Sh7.4 billion corruptly acquired public assets in the town.

The anti-corruption agency is pursuing 37 prime property suspected to have been illegally subdivided and given to individuals in the leafy suburbs of Elgon View.

“We are looking to recover Sh7.4 billion worth of grabbed public property in total and the value is likely to increase upon completion of investigations,” Rasugu said.

He revealed that the commission was seeking to recover 97 parcels of land in Eldoret.

Speaking during a joint workshop for Kisumu, Vihiga, and Elgeyo Marakwet County Assemblies and County Public Service Boards, Wednesday, Rasugu said land grabbing remains an impediment to Eldoret’s push to become a city.

He noted that crucial infrastructure, hospitals, and additional schools were among key facilities required for the town to attain city status.

On the Elgon View case, Rasugu said: “The land was subdivided to individuals against physical planning requirements, which compels the allocation of land for public utilities such as police stations and playgrounds and schools.”

He explained that powerful individuals, in collusion with government officials, identify open spaces meant for public utilities, and dish property out for private use.

Rasugu said investigations in the Elgon View case and others were active and some individuals will be taken to court.

He said land grabbers in the town were bold and go for houses built for police officers. 

“They see a police officer living in the house and a police vehicle parked there and he does not collect any rent from the officer because he knows it is public property,” he observed.

He said EACC had adequate evidence that could enable it recover grabbed property to allow expansion of Eldoret.

“The grabbers approach public officers in collusion and use fake survey documents and physical planning development plans to allocate prime land to individuals," said the EACC official.

“We don’t have to wait to move to court. If you know that the property you are occupying is public land, just surrender the property. If you can’t, you can wait for us to investigate the matter and take you to court. Even after we decide to take the matters to court, you can still come forward and we resolve the case through an alternative dispute resolution mechanism,” he added.

Rasugu said the commission is also eying recovery of public money lost to individuals holding two government positions.

EACC spokesperson Eric Ngumbi said the commission is working with DCI to investigate fake academic documents used to gain employment in public institutions.

Ngumbi revealed that the commission is targeting a county assembly in the North Rift which illegally created a number of sectoral committees with intentions of misappropriating public funds.

“One county assembly in the North Rift has, through its selection committee together with the deputy Speaker, sat and increased the number of sectoral committees beyond the number prescribed by law, and proceeded to nominate members to sit in those committees," he said.

“They have split the Committee on Health into Medical Services and Public Health. By raising the number of committees from the maximum of 18 to 25, those members violated the law,” he said.

Ngumbi further said that EACC had registered an upsurge in individuals approaching it for negotiations on corruptly acquired property.

“Those approaching the EACC pay interest where applicable. They include people who secured public jobs using fake academic qualifications. We are aware of top managers of public institutions that have allowed some individuals with fake qualifications and their bosses to be held to account,” he said.