alexa Graft agency pursues city county officials suspected of land fraud - Daily Nation

Graft agency pursues city county officials suspected of land fraud

Sunday November 10 2019

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko leaves EACC headquarters in Nairobi on September 3, 2019. The EACC is probing several staff in his administration over possible fraud after public land ended up in the hands of a private developer. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SUNDAY NATION REPORTER
By SUNDAY NATION REPORTER
More by this Author

A prime piece of land that is at the centre of a row pitting Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko against the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) was illegally allocated to a businessman by county officials who pocketed millions, documents from State agencies show.

It is also emerging that the main suspects in the EACC investigations on the same land in South C, Nairobi, are listed as witnesses in the case that Mr Sonko has accused the anti-graft agency of not investigating.

The investigations have established that the land was first fraudulently and irregularly allocated to a private citizen in a conspiracy with employees of the defunct Nairobi City Council before being transferred to businessman Isaack Abdullahi Ibrahim.

BLAMED EACC

Mr Sonko ‘exposed’ the matter in adverts placed in newspapers and on television and blamed EACC for not investigating the matter despite several letters. However, senior county officials under active investigations are still in office.

Investigations have established that Nairobi City Council officials irregularly allocated unalienated public land Nairobi/Block 103/793 within Mugoya South C to a Johnson Nyaga Kibira who later supposedly sold it to Isaack Abdullahi Ibrahim for millions of shillings.

Advertisement

Among the suspects being investigated by EACC in connection with the case is Stephen Gathuita Mwangi, Nairobi’s chief lands officer.

The Sunday Nation has established that investigations by the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) discovered that, immediately after the alleged purchase price of the controversial land was paid, the money was shared out amongst 11 Nairobi City Council officials.

Three companies, some belonging to Nairobi City Council officers and their spouses, were also paid part of the proceeds.

On completion of its investigations, EACC has recommended the prosecution of 14 individuals.

CONSPIRACY
Although Isaack Abdullahi Ibrahim is the alleged owner of the irregularly allocated land, he is not among those recommended for prosecution because, according to the investigations, he was not party to the conspiracy.

In his witness statement, Mr Mwangi averred that the suit property was transferred to Isaack Abdullahi Ibrahim on December 11, 2014 subject to the county government’s consent to lease, among other consents from various stakeholders.

He admitted that on or about April 10, 2019, they received a letter from EACC to stop the ongoing construction amid allegations of irregular allocation, which necessitated the decision to cancel the building plans through a letter dated May 17, 2019.

“We cannot stand in the way of the second defendant’s need to carry out its constitutional mandate to investigate the allegations. By consent adopted as an order of the court by Eboso J on or about May 27, 2019, the plaintiff was allowed to continue with the construction on the suit property while the second defendant was allowed to continue with its investigations.”

While Mwangi has been interrogated and recorded a statement in connection with his earlier involvement in the fraudulent transaction, he is also listed as Nairobi City County’s witness in the case relating to the same land case that Mr Sonko alleges EACC has refused to investigate.

PUBLIC USE
Nairobi Block 103 was created from the subdivision of three pieces of land LR.209/10282, LR 209/12175 and LR.209/11141.

Details from Nairobi County’s Physical Planning department, which has since been barred by the governor from approving any plans in the city, revealed that the fraudulently allocated parcel had not been allocated to any user and should therefore have been left free for public use.

It is emerging that the same land was irregularly allocated to John Nyaga Kibira by the defunct Nairobi City Council but the allotment letter, Part Development Plans (PDPs) – a document that accompanies allocation of any land by the government – and lease documents have been found to be fraudulent.
In further pursuit of the case, EACC through Civil Case file EACC-/INQ/AT/26/2018 recommended the recovery of the land and that the title issued to Isaack Abdullahi Ibrahim be annulled.

The investigation began in 2016 when Evans Kidero was still the governor of Nairobi and way before Sonko assumed office.

On November 15, 2018, EACC through deputy director of investigations Humphrey Mahiva, wrote to the Chief Land Registrar seeking restrictions on the land.

“Pursuant to Section 76(1)(2)(b) of the Land Registration Act 2012, the commission wishes to apply for restriction on dealings related to the above parcels of land until the allegations are verified.”

TEMPORARY ORDER

In a letter dated April 10, 2019, EACC requested the Nairobi City County to stop ongoing construction on the said parcel of land but then Ibrahim proceeded to court on May 15, 2019 in case file ELC 158 of 2019 filed as a notice of motion application under a certificate of urgency through Ahmed, Abdikadir & Co Advocates seeking orders stopping the EACC and the Nairobi City County from interfering with his development of the land.

EACC in response filed a notice of appointment of advocates appointing Claire Lai on May 24, 2019 and on May 27, 2019 both parties appeared before Justice Eboso for the hearing of the application.

“That pending the hearing and determination of this suit, this honourable court do issue a temporary order restraining the 1st and 2nd defendant by itself, its servants, agents and/or employees from harassing, intimidating and/or in any manner howsoever from interfering and/or interrupting with the applicant’s development, construction, cancelling building approvals and plans, possession and enjoyment of the leased premises being the property LR. No. 103/793”, the application reads in part.

The case was in Court 34 at the Milimani Law Courts before Justice Eboso on 27 June, 2019 and was again in the same court before the same judge under a certificate of urgency on July 8, 2019 but the judge did not certify it as urgent.

On July 30, 2019 there was a hearing of the case and a mention date given by Justice Eboso.

There was a hearing in the Environment and Lands Court 2 before Justice G. Yano and again on October 29, 2019 for mention before Justice Eboso.
The case is ongoing.