, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4 – A top National Lands Commission official was on Thursday found with a whooping Sh17 million in his house during a raid by detectives from the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC).
A senior EACC official told Capital FM News that they found $160,000 and Sh1 million in local currency – in what they described as a major breakthrough in their investigation on skewed compensation of land for the Standard Gauge Railway.
“In total, Sh17 million was found in the house of the NLC official,” the EACC official said but declined to name the individual.
Several documents were also seized from houses of the other NLC officials whose houses were raided. The detectives also took away laptops for further analysis, and were also analysing phone data to facilitate investigations.
Our source at EACC said could not disclose the suspect’s identity for fear of jeopardising the ongoing investigation because the money seized is considered crucial evidence in prosecuting the case.
The detectives are investigating corruption claims leveled against top officials of the lands commission – including Chairman Muhammad Swazuri who was questioned by the Parliamentary Lands committee earlier this year following a petition by a former journalist who claimed he bribed him to facilitate compensation for his prime land.
Former journalist Mugo Njeru claimed that he bribed Swazuri with Sh1 million through his conduit Badhili Elijah.
Swazuri denies all the allegations, and has accused the journalist of being used to bring him down.
In late March, Swazuri filed a case in court seeking an order to restrain the National Assembly Lands Committee from hearing the petition by the journalist that was seeking his removal.
Mugo Njeru, a former Nation Media Group journalist had petitioned the committee to investigate criminal allegations of corruption and bribery against the NLC chief.
Njeru and his wife Edith Wairimu accused Swazuri of demanding a bribe of Sh1.2 million to be compensated for their land which the government acquired for the SGR project.
The petitioner told MPs that his 80 acres land is located off Mombasa Road in Nairobi and the committee was told that a surveyor from the Lands Ministry mapped out the disputed land and wrote a report confirming that he was the owner.
Swazuri however insisted that the parliamentary committee did not have power to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption as the mandate exclusively belongs to the police and EACC which swiftly took over the case, leading to Thursday’s raid at the homes of all top NLC officials.
The Njeru’s wanted Swazuri held liable for decisions made in his capacity as chairman of the NLC but the latter argues that it would be discriminatory by “singling him out for decisions reached by the commission”.
Through lawyer Tom Ojienda, Swazuri was apprehensive that unless Parliament was barred, he stood to suffer outright violations of his constitutional rights to fair administrative action, right to a fair hearing, protection against discrimination and right to human dignity amongst others.
He finally obtained temporary orders barring the committee from investigating him, but it proceeded with the probe.