Kenyan Minister stands firm on cemetery

March 10, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 10 – Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi has admitted that he knows Newton Osiemo, who has been linked to the Sh259 million cemetery scandal, but has denied receiving any money through him.

Mr Mudavadi who is the Minister for Local Government told reporters on Wednesday that he planned to take legal action against unnamed individuals whom he accused of dragging his name into the scandal which he claims was being used by his political detractors to soil his name.

“I am the one who invited the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission officers to come and investigate this matter, after I noticed that there was something wrong,” Mr Mudavadi said. “There was no single evidence linking me to this scandal, I have carried out my political responsibility.  I’m being linked to the scandal for my zeal in pursuing the truth?”

He said: “I played no role in the saga, other than to request for thorough investigations and demand that action be taken against those involved.”

Mr Mudavadi also denied ever doing business with Mr Osiemo, who is alleged to have been at the centre of the inflation of the purchase price for the cemetery land and also collected some Sh59 million, with the explanation it would be shared out among top ministry officials including Mr Mudavadi.

On Tuesday, KACC Acting Director John Mutonyi said his detectives were investigating the minister and the claims levelled against him and Mr Osiemo to establish if indeed he (DPM) played any part or received money from the illegal land deal.

“I have met him long before, but he is not my associate, and never have we ever had any deals,” Mr Mudavadi said and denied that he directed or ordered any officer in his ministry to get involved in the cemetery land purchase deal or any other illegal deal.

The KACC spent nearly three hours interrogating and recording a statement from the Minister on Wednesday at his Jogoo House office, forcing him to keep journalists waiting for hours in his boardroom after he called a press conference at 11am.

And when he emerged from the grilling session, the Minister said: “I have had a session with the KACC officers and I have given all the relevant documents in my possession and answered all the questions they had after they honoured my invitation.”

The Minister said it took the KACC officers too long to honour his invitation: “Because I invited them long time ago… sometime last year after having written to Ambassador Muthaura requesting for his intervention.”

Political connection

Mr Mudavadi said he suspected people he did not name “of being behind the whole saga, because these are the people who went out to leak documents from the KACC even before the matter was conclusively investigated and the right procedure taken.”

“And I can tell you, tutapelekana kortini (we will end up in court), hawa ni watu wako na nia ya kuchafulia watu majina (these are people with the aim of maligning other people’s names),” the DPM said, but he did not reveal the names of people he contemplated taking to court.

The KACC is investigating if officials at the Local Government Ministry and Nairobi City Council (NCC) followed due process in purchasing the 120 acres of land in Athi River offered for use as a cemetery at an inflated price of Sh283 million that is at Sh2.4 million an acre, when the owner had offered it at Sh400,000 an acre.

Of this amount, only Sh110 million was paid to the vendor.

A report by the Controller and Auditor General found that NCC officials and others at the Local Government Ministry had failed to follow the Public Procurement Procedure and even forged some tender documents in executing the deal.

President Mwai Kibaki on Monday suspended 13 senior officers at the Ministries of Local Government, Finance and at the Nairobi City council and called for thorough investigations over the matter.

Those suspended include Local Government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui, Reuben K. Rotich (Senior Deputy Secretary), Boniface Misero (Director of Procurement), Herman Chevera (Chief Financial Officer).

Others are Paul Ngugi (Director of Budget City Council), John Gakuo (Nairobi River Project Coordinator & Former Town Clerk), Geoffrey Katsolleh (Deputy Town Clerk), Kanyi Njambura (Director of Procurement) and Mary Ng\’ethe (Director of Legal Affairs).



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