Monday, October 25, 2010

Nairobi mayor arrested over Sh283m graft case

Nairobi Mayor Geophrey Majiwa. Photo/FILE

Nairobi Mayor Geophrey Majiwa. Photo/FILE 

By SAM KIPLAGAT and MATTHEW RINGA

Nairobi Mayor Geophrey Majiwa was on Monday arrested by anti-corruption agents over the controversial purchase of a piece of land for use as a cemetery.

Officials from the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (Kacc) went to the mayor's residence in Nairobi's South 'C' at 7am while accompanied by police officers and took him away to the their headquarters where he is currently being held.

In the cemetery saga, officials at City Hall and the Ministry of Local Government set off to identify alternative land to set up a new cemetery to serve the city.

A parcel was identified at Mavoko township and purchased. Later, however, the entire deal stirred a controversy with questions over its suitability for burying the dead amid claims it was highly overpriced and ownership disputes.

The Kacc spokesman Mr Nicholas Simani said Mayor Majiwa is likely to be arraigned in court on Tuesday to face two corruption-related charges.

Mr Simani said Kacc investigators recorded a statement from the mayor soon after his arrest.

So far, 14 people, among them former Local Government permanent secretary Sammy Kirui and former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo have been charged with scandal and denied the offence.

According to the charge sheet, Mr Kirui and 13 others acquired Sh283 million from the Local Government Ministry on diverse dates between December 2008 and April 2009.

Duped

It is alleged that they claimed the money was the purchase price payable by City Hall for a piece of land to be used as a cemetery.

Other accused persons are Mr Maina Chege, Naen Rech Limited, Mr Newton Osiemo, Mr Alphonce Mutinda, Mrs Mary Ngechi Ngethe, Mr Nelson Otido and Mr Joseph K'Ojwando.

Also charged are Mr Alexander Musee, Mr Daniel Nguku, Mr Herman Chavera, Mr William Mayaka and lawyers Paul Chapia Onduso and Davies Odero.

Mr Kirui, Ms Ng'ethe, the suspended director of legal affairs at city Hall, former Town Clerk John Gakuo and Mr Musee face more charges of abuse of office.

The hearing of the cases has, however, been stalled after Ms Ng’ethe filed an application seeking to stop the cases pending a constitutional application.

Ms Ng’ethe has argued that she was duped into recording the statements to the anti-graft agency officials after being promised pardon.

The allegations have been dismissed by the Attorney General saying Kacc does not have powers to pardon offenders. All the accused persons are out on cash bail of Sh2.5 million.

A ruling on whether the case will be stopped will be made on November 24.

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