Matiang’i summoned over Sh3.2 billion Ruaraka land deal
Published Mon, May 21st 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 20th 2018 at 22:49 GMT +3
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, National Land Commission (NLC) officials and former Attorney General Githu Muigai have been summoned to record statements over the Sh3.2 billion Ruaraka land payout.
Two firms have been paid Sh1.5 billion but the balance of Sh1.7 billion has been stopped by the anti-graft agency pending investigations into claims that payments were made irregularly. Parliament is also investigating the matter.
Sources said Dr Matiang’i is expected to appear before the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) this week to clarify his role in the payment that was processed when he served as Education CS.
Already, NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri and Vice Chairperson Abigail Mukolwe have appeared at Integrity Centre for questioning.
On March 17, 2017, Matiang’i wrote to Prof Swazuri asking NLC to acquire the 13.5 acres, LR No 7879/4, in Ruaraka, Nairobi, for Ruaraka High and Drive-In Primary schools.
“I was called and (I) complied with the summons. I have forwarded to them all the documents they required, including a copy of the title,” Swazuri told The Standard yesterday.
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Prof Muigai yesterday explained he had already provided the necessary information and documents to the investigators relating to what advice was sought and by who regarding the compulsory acquisition.
The former AG has informed EACC that his role was to give a legal opinion and that he couldn’t direct or determine decisions made by independent entities.
He insisted that he received a request from the Ministry of Education to offer the opinion to which he responded, saying public acquisition for any land can only be done through NLC and titles surrendered before payments are made. In this case, the ministry and NLC processed the payments without obtaining the title deed, which was charged at Sh100 million to Credit Continental Bank.
“They (EACC) wrote to me asking to explain where the request for a legal opinion came from. I have prepared a very extensive statement reproducing what the current AG (Kihara Kariuki) told Parliament and forwarded to them. The documents speak for themselves and I don’t need to appear before them,” he said.
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Investigators indicate they have almost concluded the investigations and have identified persons of interest who may have either committed fraud or falsified information.
Yesterday, EACC Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo refused to divulge more details when asked who else would appear to make statements, only indicating that “we are progressing well and nearing completion”.
Asked specifically whether Matiang’i had been summoned, Waqo did not respond.
The CS was also not available for comment as calls and text messages to his mobile phone went unanswered.
Interior Affairs spokesman Mwenda Njoka later called to state that the minister had not seen the invitation.
“We haven’t seen that invitation and thus we can’t deny or confirm it,” Mr Njoka said.
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Tom Aziz Chavangi, the NLC Chief Executive Officer, has been asked by EACC to facilitate the forwarding of documents and also ensure that several officers under him make themselves available to records statements.
All officials from the evaluation department led by Valuation and Taxation Director Salome Munubi have been summoned together with Finance Director Francis Mugo.
Last week, Lands CS Farida Karoney told a parliamentary watchdog committee that the Government did not follow due process in the compulsory acquisition of the controversial Ruaraka land.
The State has already paid the Sh1.5 billion to Huelands and Afrison Export Company to acquire the land, with the balance of Sh1.7 billion pending following the latest investigations by EACC. The directors of the firms are also expected to record statements.