Nairobi Mayor arrested over Sh283m scandal

October 25, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 25 – The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) says it has credible evidence to charge Nairobi Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa over the Sh283 million cemetery scandal.

The Mayor was picked up from his Nairobi residence on Monday morning and driven to the KACC headquarters for questioning as detectives finalised their investigation.

“We have credible evidence to charge His Worship the Mayor in court. His charge sheet is ready and he will be appearing in court tomorrow [Tuesday] morning to face two counts of corruption in relation to the cemetery scandal,” KACC Spokesman Nicholas Simani told journalists.

The Mayor arrived at Integrity Centre under tight security in an unmarked four-wheel drive vehicle and tried to dodge journalists who were waiting at the KACC offices.

The vehicle did not stop at the main entrance to the Commission offices, on realising that journalists were camping there and instead headed to the basement where he alighted, boarded a lift to second floor accompanied by three policemen attached to the Commission.

Less than ten minutes later, we caught up with him on the second floor as he was being led to an interrogation room.

He did not grant an interview only saying “yes I have been arrested” when asked by one journalist what he was doing at Integrity Centre.

The Commission Spokesman later told journalists that the Mayor would answer to the first count of conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption contrary to section 47 A [3] as read with section 48 of the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act 2003.

“He will also be charged with the second count of willful neglect to perform official duty contrary to section 128 as read with section 38 of the penal code. He will be taken to court tomorrow and the amount involved is Sh283 million,” Mr Simani said.

He said the Mayor was likely to be released on bond later on Monday, on condition that he would present himself in court on Tuesday.

“He is already negotiating to be released on bond and if he meets all the requirements of the bond, he will be set free once detectives are through with him,” he said.

By midday, Mr Majiwa was still being detained at the KACC offices where he was recording a statement.

The charge sheet states that together with other officials, Mr Majiwa conspired to acquire Sh283, 200,000 from the Ministry of Local Government to purchase land for cemetery use within Mavoko Municipality.

Mr Simani said the Commission was investigating several other unnamed officials at the council and ministry who would be arraigned in court soon.

The Mayor and some officials at the Ministry and the council are accused of colluding to overvalue the 120-acre Mavoko cemetery land by over Sh259 million, up from the real value of the land which was placed at Sh24 million. The land had been earmarked to replace the Langata cemetery which is full.

A report by the Controller and Auditor General released to Parliament implicated senior government officers accusing them of overvaluing the proposed land.

The government audit said the officers ignored a valuation by the Ministry of Lands which quoted the market price at Sh24 million.  The report called for disciplinary action against the officers who were involved in the procurement and those who perpetuated the overpayment.  It also recommended quick recovery of the lost funds.

According to the government audit, Sh175 million went to other parties but not the vendor of the land in Athi River who on his own, pocketed Sh105 million.
The Mayor has however claimed innocence over the scandal despite accusations by a Parliamentary committee. In May he rushed to court to stop the Attorney General from prosecuting him as calls for his resignation intensified.

Mr Majiwa had indicated he would sue both the AG and KACC for allegedly linking him to the scandal. He had further intended to seek a court order to quash recommendations or any mention made against him in a forensic report compiled by KACC on the scandal. However the court threw out his case.

Mr Majiwa claims to have only participated at a full city council meeting in 2005, which passed the resolution to purchase the land and executing the said sale agreement on November 19, 2008 and the January 23, 2009 transfer.

Fourteen people are facing charges in an ongoing court case over the matter.

Sacked Local Government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui, Director of Legal Affairs Mary Ng\’ethe and former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo are among the accused.

In March, President Mwai Kibaki suspended the three alongside nine other senior officers at the Treasury, Ministry of local government and City Hall. He then ordered their immediate prosecution.

A report by the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on the Local Authorities had besides these officers called for Local Government Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa to take political responsibility for the scandal and step aside.  Mr Mudavadi also vigorously denies any wrongdoing.


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