Ngilu has a date with court over Karen land saga

Wednesday June 17 2015

By PETER LEFTIE

Mrs Charity Ngilu, the suspended Cabinet secretary for Lands, will be the second member of the Jubilee Cabinet to be prosecuted for charges arising from corruption allegations.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko has accepted a recommendation by the anti-corruption commission to prosecute her, not for corruption but for obstructing investigations into the Karen land saga.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Tobiko said the case against Mrs Ngilu was sustainable and directed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to proceed and file charges against her.

The EACC had accused Mrs Ngilu of obstructing or hindering the collection of evidence in relation to the Karen land saga by directing Ministry of Lands officials not to release documents to its investigators or even record any statements regarding the matter.

“Having received the evidence, I am satisfied that the recommended charge is sustainable. I have, therefore, accepted EACC’s recommendation that the CS be charged with the offence of obstruction,” Mr Tobiko said.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau was the first to be charged with abuse of office and wilful failure to comply with procurement rules. He is accused of colluding with officials of the Kundan Singh Construction Company to alter the original design of the Kamukuywa-Kaptama-Kapsokwony-Kimilili road leading to the loss of millions of shillings.

The penalty for obstructing investigations, according to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, is a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.

Mr Tobiko, however, directed that several senior Lands Ministry officials be charged with various offences in connection with the Karen land saga.

Those to be charged include the Chief Land Registrar, the Deputy Chief Land Registrar, the Senior Deputy Director of Survey and the Registrar of Titles as well as a director of M/S Telesource.Com Ltd.

“Upon independent review of the file, I am satisfied that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the recommended charges. I have accordingly directed prosecution to ensue immediately,” he said.

Mrs Ngilu is among the five Cabinet secretaries who were suspended to facilitate investigations into corruption allegations against them.

Others who remain suspended include Felix Koskei (Agriculture), Kazungu Kambi (Labour), Davis Chirchir (Energy) and Mr Kamau.

Also suspended were principal secretaries Mutea Iringo (Defence), Nduva Muli (Transport), Patrick Omutia (Mining) and James Teko (Water).

Mr Tobiko also upheld the EACC’s recommendation that Ganze MP Peter Shehe and the manager of the Constituency Development Fund be charged with embezzling CDF money through fictitious projects.

He, however, directed the EACC to conduct further investigations into allegations that the Trans Nzoia County government irregularly acquired Vipul House in Kitale Town at an exorbitant cost of Sh500 million pretending that it would house the Kitale Referral Hospital.

The DPP’s directive will probably not come as a surprise to Mrs Ngilu, who has been waging a campaign to discredit EACC detectives saying their actions amount to a witch-hunt.

On two separate occasions, Mrs Ngilu has accused EACC investigators of being manipulated by “busybodies who claim close links to State House” to land her in court.

“I find the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) approach to investigations, which is full of suspense and hide-and-seek games, startling. I find the piecemeal approach an exercise in witch-hunt,” she said last week.

“There is no doubt that the events of the last 78 days have been aimed at smearing my character, reputation and long public service career. What stands between my detractors and me is the truth,” she said.

She has challenged the EACC to name the beneficiaries of the disputed land in Karen that is the source of her tribulations.

She insisted that the Karen land was double-allocated to one Horatius da Gama Rose of Muchanga Investments and Jos Konzolo of Telesource.Com Limited before her time as Lands CS. “This double allocation occurred long before I became Cabinet secretary for Lands, Housing and Urban Development,” she said.

The Karen land, which is situated on Hillcrest Road and the Southern Bypass, is estimated to be worth about Sh8 billion.

Both the EACC and Mr Tobiko have cleared Mrs Ngilu of any wrongdoing in relation to the Waitiki land in Mombasa.

The EACC is yet to complete investigations into allegations against Mrs Ngilu relating to the State House Crescent plot.