In about two weeks, the auctioneer's hammer will fall on eight properties owned by Gakuyo Real Estate, the parent company of the wobbling Ekeza Savings and Credit Cooperative Society.
It will mark the bursting of a bubble created by Kiambu televangelist-turned-politician David Kariuki Ngare, popularly know as Gakuyo, the general overseer of Calvary Chosen Centre, Thika.
Mr Ngare, through a notice in local dailies of January 24 put up for sale Lillies Hotel in Juja, Salama House and Swift Breeze Hardware on Garissa Road, Thika, a quarry in Murang’a and 250 acres of land in Murang’a and Machakos counties.
The sale is intended to ward off more than 53,000 members seeking a total refund of Sh2 billion.
LOANS FOR HOUSES
The Ekeza members say they deposited their money to the sacco, hoping to get loans to enable them buy houses.
The sale by Leakey’s Auctioneers will be on Lunga Lunga Road, Industrial Area on February 14.
It will come only a week before Co-operatives Principal Secretary Susan Mochache convenes a special general meeting where an audit on how the society's money may have been misused will be made public.
The liquidation was authorised by Commissioner of Co-operatives Mary Mungai after it emerged that the sacco had no capacity to meet its obligations to members.
The commissioner froze the sacco’s accounts last year but some members want the business reopened so that they can access their money.
"We have not paid our debts for months due to the closure of the accounts. The government should come to our aid as it streamlines the issue," Mary Wambui, an Ekeza Sacco member told the Nation.
Ironically, Mr Ngare is also playing victim by asking members to settle their loans to help boost the amount to be realised from the auction.
“The sacco has given members substantial loans that should be paid to help those who saved access their funds. Let us be patient as we get close to February 21 when the report on the funds is made public,” he said, adding that no members would lose their money.
Ekeza Sacco was registered four years ago, but its licence was revoked in 2018.
Most of its members are from Thika in Kiambu County although it has 26 branches across the country.
When Mr Gakuyo, who has also been battling claims of faking his academic papers, launched his bid for Kiambu governor seat in 2016, he integrated his political messages with the sacco’s marketing campaigns.
Mr Gakuyo later dropped his bid in favour of the eventual winner Ferdinand Waititu.
He is an adviser of the governor on economic affairs.
Buoyed by a wave of resentment towards the then Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, the dual messaging saw thousands of people — mostly from low income groups — join the sacco as individuals, joint account holders or groups.
Others even opened accounts for their children.
Members were told that after saving some amount with Ekeza, they would get loans to buy houses through Gakuyo Real Estate Company.
Mr Stephen Irungu, who hoped to buy a piece of land through the scheme, joined Ekeza on April 15, 2016, depositing Sh103,000.
The storekeeper was unable to keep up with savings and withdrew Sh25,000 to meet urgent needs.
When he applied to withdraw the remaining amount, he was told it could only be given as a loan and that he needed guarantors.
This was despite the loan requested being equivalent to his savings.
“Even after they promised to lend me Sh55,000 in a week, the money was never deposited in my account,” Mr Irungu said.
Some members have in excess of Sh600,000 in loans while others' title deeds and logbooks are being held by the sacco as collateral for loans.