Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero have been sensationally named in a land grabbing scandal involving a plot near State House, Nairobi, worth an estimated Sh600 million.
The two top officials are named in court documents filed on Friday that have shone a light on operations of land grabbing cartels in the country and bring out an alleged unholy alliance between politicians, lawyers and crooks who prowl government offices looking for quick riches.
The court documents claim Mrs Ngilu and Mr Kidero colluded with lawyers and fraudsters to take away the two-acre prime piece of land that is being claimed by Myta Development Limited, a firm owned by Mr Hailu Asfaw, an Ethiopian national.
Myta has sued Mrs Ngilu, the Chief Land Registrar and Director of Survey to recover the property in the State House area.
The shocking and elaborate scheme, peppered with death threats and what appears to be outright forgery of documents, has been revealed by one of the key players who decided to blow the whistle after he was duped and sidelined.
Mr Dave Kipkorir Langat claims to have sold his car, land and tractors to finance Mr Julius Kiplangat Kitur, who claimed to own the plot but lacked money to process a title deed. He was promised a handsome return of 20 per cent of the sale price.
Mrs Ngilu, Mr Kidero and others accused of high-level conspiracy to forcefully take over the land have not responded to the accusations laid out in suit papers filed by the law firm of Ahmednasir, Abdikadir and Company Advocates.
According to the documents, in January, at the height of the demonstration by Lang’ata Road Primary School pupils over an alleged grabbed playground, Mrs Ngilu invaded the land near State House claiming it belonged to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She stationed people wearing National Youth Service uniform to guard the property.
The minister returned the following day with a private contractor who took over the property and, within hours, delivered building materials to the site, court documents state.
In an affidavit, Mr Langat says that Mr Kidero was invited to the deal by Mr Kitur, the alleged owner.
Subsequently, Mr Kidero brought in his lawyer, Mr Tom Onyango, and Mrs Ngilu who agreed to “clean the title deed” before buying the land. But when the “cleaning” process was done, Mr Langat was kicked out of the deal.
According to the affidavit, the fraudulent scheme started way back in 2009.
“Sometimes in April 2009, Kitur who had been known to me informed me that he had been given land when he worked as a driver with powerful individuals in the Moi government. He informed me that due to lack of funds he was not able to process the title deed,” says Mr Langat who was then based in Kericho.
According to Mr Langat, he was convinced that Mr Kitur wanted to sell the land to “rich and powerful” individuals.
He agreed to finance the acquisition of the title deed on grounds that he will earn 20 per cent of Sh600 million Mr Kitur hoped to sell the property for.
On sealing the deal with Mr Kitur, he embarked on a journey to Nairobi and on arrival they roped in MP Paul Sang, Mr William Arusei, Mr Richard Kipkorir, Mr Fred Kattam, Ms Josephine Koskei, Mr Elvis Kirui and Mr Sammy Kirui.
“Kitur advised us on how the process of the title documents is done. He told me that an application was to be made to the Commissioner of Lands to authorise the Director of Surveys to start the documentation process.”
Court documents state that Mr Langat proceeded to put Mr Kitur on a financial drip as agreed that he “would give him money whenever he came to request” before handing the title to him for safe keeping.
“The whole time, I believed that everything that was being processed was genuine and above board. Later, I came to establish that there was another title in existence over the same land owned by an Ethiopian national, trading in the name of Myta Development Limited who had already charged it to Diamond Trust Bank,” says Mr Langat.
KIDERO WOULD BUY
Mr Kitur kept his word until August 2014, when he broke the news to Mr Langat that Mr Kidero was the buyer of the land.
“Mr Kitur told me that he had booked an appointment with Mr Kidero and I should carry the title deed for Kidero to verify,” says Mr Langat.
During the meeting, Mr Kitur states that Mr Kidero broke the news that Mr Kitur had agreed to share the land with him on 50-50 basis. This, according to Mr Langat, threw him off balance because he was unaware that Mr Kitur was negotiating with Mr Kidero.
“Mr Kidero asked Mr Kitur to confirm. Mr Kitur accepted and confirmed. Mr Kidero introduced Mr Abas Khalifa as a son of his business partner and his proxy in the transaction. I never expected that the governor will claim 50 per cent of the land. He also disclosed that he was to buy the remaining 50 per cent and make payments before the end of year,” says Mr Langat’s affidavit.
After the meeting, Mr Kidero’s lawyer, Mr Onyango, took over the legal work “that would be needed to regurlarise the title and a process to reclaim the land from occupants”.
The three parties — Mr Kitur, Mr Langat and Mr Khalifa (representing Mr Kidero) — signed an agreement dated November 4, 2014. The agreement gave Mr Khalifa 50 per cent of the property, 20 per cent each to Mr Langat and Kitur and 10 per cent to Mr Sang, the former MP.
“We proceeded to meet with Mr Onyango who told us that there was a lot of work to be done before payment is done to us. He was to study the title,” states Mr Langat.
It was at this juncture that Mrs Ngilu was brought into the deal.
“Governor Kidero told us he had spoken with Mrs Ngilu who would direct the land registrar, one Sarah Mwenda, and Director of Survey Mr Mbaria to help Kitur clean the title deed. I do not know what he meant by cleaning the title but we were told by Kidero that the process of cleaning the title must commence before the property can be sold to him. He was to buy our 50 per cent share in cash,” says Mr Langat.
After the meeting, Mr Onyango took them to Mrs Ngilu’s office. In the office, Mrs Ngilu was with her Personal Assistant, Mr James Mbaluka, Mr Mbaria and Ms Mwenda.
“They told us that a lot of work needed to be done on the title; that they will work with Mr Onyango and, therefore, there was no need for us to look for the Land officers or CS,” says Mr Langat.
As the process of “cleaning the title” progressed, Mr Langat allegedly told Mr Onyango that there were several searches done on the land.
However, Mr Onyango dismissed him saying “discrepancies could be used to challenge the current ownership in court once the new title is cleaned and transferred to a new company, which will become an innocent purchaser for value without notice”.
“When I went to Mr Onyango’s office sometimes in December 2014, he told me that he had met with the Director of Survey, and the Chief Land Registrar together with Mr Khalifa with Mr Mbaluka representing Mrs Ngilu to discuss the cleaning process,” says Mr Langat.
According to the documents, whenever they sought payment, Mr Onyango would reiterate that the “cleaning process” was incomplete.
Mr Onyango later confirmed that he had written a letter to Mr Mbaria and Ms Mwenda who had agreed to “alter the documents”.
“It was mutually agreed that Mr Mbaria will alter survey records and Sara Mwenda will alter records held at Ardhi House. Mr Mbaluka and Mr Khalifa helped create a deed file and other documentations,” says Mr Langat in the affidavit.
The deal between Mr Kidero and Mrs Ngilu entailed forcibly evicting the owner from his property using City Council askaris and NYS personnel.
“The site was to be handed over to Mr Khalifa after the Lands officials and ourselves were paid in full. The Ethiopian was to be deported from Kenya. I witnessed all these schemes being planned by people acting with and instructions from Mr Kidero and Mrs Ngilu,” says Mr Langat.
Mr Langat says he became uncomfortable when new documents including receipts were manufactured with old dates in the name of Mr Kitur.
Mr Langat says that after the paper work was done, Mr Kitur, Mr Khalifa and Mr Onyango vanished into thin air. “Mr Kitur moved house to Mr Haji Khalifa’s home, where he is now employed as a driver for Mr Ismael Ibrahim. Mr Haji Khalifa is the father to Abbas Khalifa.”
The deal went sour as the group threatened to arrest Mr Langat if he blew the whistle.
Mr Langat states in court papers that some of the people named in the transaction had threatened to kill him. He reported the threats to the police.