Kenya: EACC Officers Raid Sonko's Private Office

A standoff ensued at Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko's Upper Hill private office after a contingent of Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) officers raided the property in relation to investigations into the acquisition of the multi-million property.

The officers are said to have arrived at Governor Sonko's office at around 10am to search the property as well as carry out a valuation of the property accompanied by valuers from Gimco Valuers.

However, the officers were repulsed and left without achieving their mission.

Confirming the development, Governor Sonko spokesperson Ben Mulwa said that more than 20 EACC officers stormed the property saying there was an active investigation in relation to the acquisition of the property and therefore, they were there to search and value the property.

"Yes, the officers arrived here in a contingent at around 10am when the governor was in a meeting with two of his county ministers and a chief officer. They said they wanted to search as well as value the property, claiming there is an active investigation in regards to the acquisition of the property," said Mr Mulwa.

The anti-graft agency has been probing how the governor came to acquire the posh property from Kenya Railways Staff Retirement Benefits Scheme.

Claims that the land was undervalued

This is after reports that the deal to acquire the property was marred with controversy, including claims that the land was undervalued.

The EACC has been investigating documents including tender documents, minutes of the tender committee, sale agreements, payment documents, approved subdivision documents and the main title deed.

On his part, the City Hall boss has maintained that he legally purchased the property - LR. 209\6507 - after entering into an agreement with the scheme's trustees to purchase two portions of the land for Sh498.5 million on April 30, 2019, depositing Sh144.6 million in accordance with the contract.

He said the purchase happened after three tendering processes between 2017 and 2019 with the former Nairobi senator, further pointing out that he has occupied the property since May 22, 2017, when he entered into an agreement to lease it for use as office space.

While a tenant between December 2017 and December 2018, the pension trustees advertised for an open tender to purchase parcels of the property under tender No. KRSBRS/013/PLM.2017 and tender No. KRSRBS/08/PLM.2018, but both bids were non-responsive.

Mr Sonko said the trustees floated another bid in February 2019, under Tender No. KRSRBS/02/PLM.2019, which he bid for successfully.

It was after the successful bidding process that he acquired the two parcels of land, paying from his account at Diamond Trust Bank and his lawyer's accounts.

And now, Mr Mulwa has termed the raid by EACC as disturbing saying that the governor has never failed at any one time to provide the information required.

He added it would have been proper for EACC to write a letter saying they want to visit the property.

He also said that the Scheme has also been providing the Commission with all the information they require.

"What we find disturbing is the manner in which they arrived because ordinarily if they are coming to do the valuation of the property, why do they come with a contingent of police officers? If EACC wanted to do valuation, the governor wonders why it is not decent enough for them to send a notice informing him of the same," he said.

Willing buyer and seller

He defended his boss over the acquisition of the property saying the deal was purely public-commercial transaction where there was willing buyer and seller.

Mr Mulwa said Governor Sonko started showing interest in acquiring the property in 2017 when the Scheme first advertised the property.

Before then, he said, the governor moved in as a tenant through the Sonko Rescue Team and he is still paying rent to the Scheme as he is yet to complete paying for the property.

"He is a tenant and if there are concerns, then the EACC should deal with the scheme and not him," said Mr Mulwa.

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