17 April 2019

Kenya: EACC Arrests Ex-NLC Boss Muhammad Swazuri, 23 Others

National Land Commission former chairman Muhammad Swazuri, and over a dozen other ex-officials and businesspeople have been arrested over alleged corruption.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) detectives picked up the officials from their homes in Nairobi on Wednesday morning.

SH109 MILLION

Their arrests are linked to fraudulent compensation for land acquired by the commission for the construction of the Mombasa Southern Bypass and Kipevu New Highway Container Terminal link road in 2013.

The land belonging to Tornado Carriers Limited was initially valued at Sh34,501,110 in 2015 but the commission ended up paying Sh109,769,363 after Dr Swazuri ordered a second valuation.

NLC was compulsorily acquiring the piece of land on behalf of the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA).

In statement shortly after the arrests, Mr Haji questioned how NLC carried out a valuation of a piece of land that more than tripled the price within a period of two years.

"As required by law, a valuation was undertaken and a report prepared indicating that the value of the land in 2015 was Sh34.5 million," he said.

"Following the valuation, an award was made to M/s Tornado Carriers Ltd for the said sum which award they allegedly rejected and the chairperson of NLC instructed the Director Valuation & Taxation and another officer in the same department to undertake a fresh valuation. The team returned a staggering figure of Sh109.8 million for the same parcel of land in January 2017."

According to Mr Haji, NLC based the price of the land on the second questionable valuation and paid little regard to the initial valuation.

"The NLC proceeded to pay Ms Tornado Carriers Ltd Sh55.3 million and C.W. Chege & Co. Advocates Sh54.5 million," the DPP said.

ADVOCATE

Among those listed for prosecution are Dr Swazuri, former NLC Commissioner Emma Njogu, NLC staff Joash Oindo (Deputy Director, Valuation & Taxation), Dr. Salome Munubi (Director, Valuation & Taxation), Francis Mugo (Director Finance) and Catherine Wanjiru Chege, an advocate at C.W Chege & Co. Advocates.

In the list are also spouses and relatives of NLC staff, directors of Tornado Carriers Ltd and Lorgis Logistics Ltd as well as two companies.

Mr Haji said the suspects will be charged with offences of conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office, financial misconduct, unlawful acquisition of public property, fraudulent acquisition, dealing with suspect property, and money laundering.

For Dr Swazuri and staff of NLC, questions about land compensations for the construction of standard gauge railway and roads have become a burden that refuses to go away.

In August 2018, the besieged former chairman was charged alongside suspended Kenya Railways managing director Athanas M over a fraudulent compensation for land meant for the standard gauge railway leading to a loss of Sh221 million.

The suspects have denied the charges.

There have also been numerous complaints by individuals who claim NLC either defrauded them of their compensation for the land they gave up for construction of the SGR track or unduly withheld their payment while demanding for bribes.

Here is the full list of suspects in the current case:

1) Prof Muhammad Swazuri (Chairperson NLC).

2) Emma Njogu (Commissioner, NLC).

3) Joash Oindo (Deputy Director, Valuation & Taxation, NLC).

4) Dr. Salome Munubi (Director, Valuation & Taxation, NLC).

5) Francis Mugo (Director Finance, NLC).

6) Catherine Wanjiru Chege (Advocate, C.W Chege & Co. Advocates).

7) Jane Wanjiku Gachigi (Spouse, Joash Oindo (NLC)).

8) Kevin Oindo Mogambi (Son, Joash Oindo (NLC)).

9) Samuel Muturi Rugongo (Businessman).

10) Michael Onyango Oloo (Spouse, Lillian Keverenge (NLC)).

11) Godfrey Rubia Muritu (Businessman).

12) Sostaenah Ogero Taracha (Spouse to Salome Munubi (NLC)).

13) Nazir Ahmed Matabkhan (Director, Tornardo Carriers Ltd).

14) Shakil Ahmed Khan (Director, Tornado Carriers Ltd).

15) Evahmary Wachera Gathondu (Businesswoman).

16) Francis Kibaru (Businessman).

17) Martha Wairimu (Businesswoman).

18) John Kamau Mwangi (Businessman).

19) Philip Kiley (Businessman).

20) Albert Kipkosgei Lessonet (Director, Lorgis Logistics Ltd).

21) Mercy Wahu Wahome.

22) Lorgis Logistics Limited.

23) Lilian Savai Keverenge.

24) Betha Wangithi Muthike.

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