How politics and religion fanned Ekeza Sacco’s fraudulent dealings
‘Man of God’ David Kariuki Ngari, aka Gakuyo, rode on religion and Jubilee Party’s 2017 political wave to recruit Ekeza Sacco members. But little did the 78,000 members whose savings hit Sh2.5 billion in the same year know the Calvary Chosen Centre founding bishop would spend every penny saved to buy properties to spruce his lifestyle.He moved from Makongeni, Thika, where he occupied a two-bedroomed house, to the leafy Nyari Estate near the United Nations offices in Gigiri where residential units generally go for about Sh200 million.
Liquidators to give verdict on Ekeza Sacco in 3 months
The property located within the premium blue zone recommended for expatriates and diplomats is an eight-bedroomed house with a detached servant quarters and a private swimming pool as well as a parking lot for at least five cars.He also invested the proceeds in an expansive farm in Kabati in Murang’a County that boasts of an active building stones quarry, Lilies Hotel in Juja as well as Thika’s Salama House and operated Swift Breeze Hardware shop along Garissa Road, Thika.These are some of the properties that he wants auctioned to raise the Sh1 billion he is accused of siphoning from Ekeza Sacco to refund members’ cash.During 2017 campaigns, Mr Gakuyo, Governor Ferdinand Waititu, his running mate James Nyoro became co-principals for the anti-Kabogo ‘United for Kiambu’ camp where they spent nights and days at Lilies Hotel laying strategies to oust Kabogo.
Sugar miller on the spot for polluting Lake Victoria waters
Others in the team were Karungo wa Thang’wa who failed to clinch the senatorial seat, former Thika MP Alice N’gan’ga and 80 per cent of ward representatives.Gakuyo spent heavily on advertisements to popularise Ekeza during Jubilee meetings that were aired live thereby enabling the United for Kiambu team sweep almost all seats in the county.But he kept his faith as a ‘Man of God’ often leading his faithfuls to secluded areas within his ‘farms’ to fast and pray for riches and good health. This message was regularly emphasised every Sunday during sermons broadcast on eight television stations across the country and on the Internet.As his following grew, Ekeza transferred monies received to Gakuyo Real Estate that were spent on buying large tracts of land and subdivided for resale to members as residential plots, an endeavour that proved popular with the masses.Earlier, Gakuyo had announced his intention to vie for the gubernatorial seat but dropped his bid to support governor Waititu after queries about his theological doctorate emerged.It earned him the name Gakuyo and the ensuing Jubilee-Ekeza campaigns wooed more members and cash. Then, governor Kabogo loudly protested against the fast rise of Ekeza warning residents of the dangers of following Gakuyo but this only made United for Kiambu more popular as the masses believed the ‘Man of God’.“My political detractors are envious of my development schemes. Mr Kabogo hurts the poor by failing to ensure proper management of Kiambu hospital and is killing businesses by increasing licence fees,” he said on November 9, 2016 when he launched his candidature.And with his involvement in Jubilee politics, Gakuyo appeared to enjoy State protection and approval needed to attract money from elderly women, shamba boys, house girls, bus conductors, hawkers, boda boda operators, peasant farmers as well as other small traders, private and public sector employees.After the elections, Mr Gakuyo was rewarded with a job as Kiambu Governor’s economic adviser where he moves around in a top-of-the range utility vehicles often escorted by county askaris in a chase car.But no one has questioned his integrity to hold public office amid rising complaints of Ekeza’s inability to meet members’ demands.“What I am doing now, is to sell whatever I have so that everybody who saved in the Ekeza can get their money back … as of today, we have refunded Sh200 million to members and I will continued refunding,” he told members who had stormed his church during a Sunday service.The Co-operative ministry probe has revealed repayments of Sh116 million were made to 2,000 members using proceeds received from diehard Gakuyo followers who continued saving with the dying sacco and loan repayments.Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has since opposed Gakuyo’s plan to sell his assets saying it is a ploy to conceal his heinous acts.Gakuyo was last Friday branded a swindler who fleeced people billions of shillings but the probe fell short of recommending criminal prosecution against him as well as State officials — police, co-operative officials and the entire county administration for culpable negligence.Ekeza was never a sacco per se but a one-man show that saw Gakuyo appoint Calvary Chosen Centre administrator James Kimani Ekeza’s vice-chairman who also doubled as his personal assistant.This earned Mr Kimani a Sh80,000 monthly salary from Ekeza despite him having no defined role in its operations while then Ekeza chief executive Gladys Mureithi doubled as the board secretary and CEO.“Gakuyo, Mr Kimani and Ms Mureithi withdrew money from Ekeza for onward delivery to Mr Gakuyo’s home. Part of it was reportedly spent on Gakuyo projects but no details have been provided on the same,” said a report by liquidator-receiver managers, Mr Stephen Njoroge (assistant director for co-operative audit) and Mr Philip Uluma (principal co-operative officer).Mr Gakuyo has since filed a case against Ms Mureithi accusing her of forgery and fraudulently obtaining a title deed as well as stealing a Sh6 million vehicle belonging to the preacher.Only time will tell if Kiambu people will act decisively against political leaders who supported Ekeza to become a behemoth that chewed their hard-earned cash.