Mayor Majiwa denies fraud charges

Tuesday October 26 2010

Nairobi mayor Geophrey Majiwa in court where he denied three counts of conspiring to defraud the City Council of Sh283 million October 26, 2010. PAUL WAWERU

Nairobi mayor Geophrey Majiwa in court where he denied three counts of conspiring to defraud the City Council of Sh283 million October 26, 2010. PAUL WAWERU 

By RICHARD MUNGUTI

Nairobi mayor Geophrey Majiwa has denied three counts of conspiring to defraud the City Council of Sh283 million Tuesday.

He was released on a Sh2.5m cash bail.

Mr Majiwa charges related to the Sh283 million cemetery saga and was arraigned before principal magistrate Lucy Nyambura.

He was remanded in custody at the High Court basement cells since he could not immediately raise bail.

The Babadogo councillor's supporters jammed the court session.

He was arrested in a dramatic early morning raid Monday on his Akila estate home by detectives from the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. He was fingerprinted and quizzed at the Integrity Centre on Valley Road.

Kacc spokesman Nicholas Simani said Monday Mr Majiwa would be charged with conspiracy to commit an offence under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act and with wilful neglect to perform official duty.

The law now requires Mr Majiwa to step aside until the case is concluded.

Also rounded up were Land Surveyor Cephas Kamande Mwaura and land valuer Boniface Misera.

“Investigations over the cemetery saga are still ongoing as we are digging for evidence to enable us prosecute other personalities involved in the scandal,” Mr Simani said.

Mr Majiwa joins more than 15 others who have been charged with fraud in connection with the purchase of the land, said to have been overpriced.

“Investigation established a well orchestrated fraud in which Nairobi City Council bought a parcel of land unsuitable for the purpose for which it was intended at a price of Sh283 million.

The price was far above the fair market value of land in similar locations. A report was compiled and forwarded to the Attorney General recommending that a number of suspects be charged with offences including breach of procurement laws and regulations, wilful neglect of duty and conspiracy to commit fraud against the public.

The file was returned with the Attorney General’s consent to proceed and charge the suspects,” Mr Simani said in a statement.

Others include suspended Local Government permanent secretary Sammy Kirui who has denied charges relating to the scandal, lawyers and former city council bosses.

The charges vary from conspiracy to defraud to fraudulent acquisition of public property and abuse of office.

Procurement for the cemetery land is suspected to have been infiltrated by middlemen working in cahoots with City Hall and government officials.

The conspirators are alleged to have inflated the cost of the land, hastened the release of the money, and paid the purported seller about a third of the quoted price before sharing the balance among themselves.

At all times, government procurement procedures were either bent or overlooked. According to the Controller and Auditor General’s report, the idea of buying cemetery land, preferably within Nairobi, was first broached at a City Hall meeting in May, 2005.

It came after it was realised the Lang’ata cemetery was running out of space.

When it failed to identify land within Nairobi, City Hall decided to extend the scope to the Nairobi metropolis, meaning such land could be obtained in adjoining districts such as Thika, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos, and Kangundo.