Two former Commissioners of Lands Wilson Gachanja, and Zablon Mabeya were yesterday charged in a Mombasa court over land fraud.
Also charged alongside the duo was a former Physical Planner in the Lands Ministry, Jabu Salim Mohamed.
The suspects were charged with nine counts related to abuse of office, willful neglect of official duties and aiding the commission of a felony before Mombasa Principal Magistrate Martin Rabera. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The offenses that were allegedly committed in Kwale county in 1994 in Kwale county.
The court heard that on diverse dates between June 10 and June 23, 1994, Gachanja in his capacity as the commissioner in charge of lands, aided the commission of a felony by abetting Galerius Investments Limited to irregularly acquire a beach plot which had been set aside as a public access road.
Gachanja is further accused of preparing a lease certificate, in favor of Galerius Investments Limited over a beach public access road described as Kwale Diani beach in abuse of the authority of his office.
Mohamed was accused of willfully neglecting to perform his assigned public duties by allowing the transfer and alienation of a beach public land to a private developer.
The suspects were each released on a Sh1 million bond and a surety of similar amount with an alternative of Sh200,000 cash bail.
The matter will be mentioned on July 4 for pretrial purposes.
Gachanja, Mabeya and Jabu Salim Mohamed were arrested yesterday morning before being arraigned late afternoon.
The trio has been on EACC’s radar over what the agency’s chief executive officer Twalib Mbarak, said was facilitating illegal acquisition of public land dubbed Kwale Diani Beach block/1072 that was meant for a public access road valued at Sh30 million.
Twalib disclosed that the commission was looking into other cases with a view to parading those found culpable to answer to criminal charges that could see them jailed severally.
“In such cases related to recovery of public properties, there are civil and criminal aspects. In this case, there has been a civil suit to recover the land, and criminal aspects have come out and that is why we have arrested the suspects. There are very many land fraud cases coming up where some of them (Gachanja and Mabeya) have been linked and should it be found that there is criminal culpability on their part, they will be charged for all the cases. This case will serve as a lesson and warning to public officers in national and county governments, that you can abuse your position today but you will pay one day,” Twalib told People Daily yesterday.
The land in question, according to EACC, was reserved as a public beach access road but was illegally allocated to former Kwale senator, the late Boy Juma Boy on June 23, 1994 and a Certificate of Lease illegally issued in favour of Galerius Investment Ltd.
Salim is accused of preparing a fraudulent Part Development Plan (PDP) to facilitate the irregular allocation.
Gachanja and Mabeya, according to EACC, allegedly participated in the fraud and neglected their duties by allowing the alienation of the public access land and its allocation to Galerius Investment Ltd between June 23, 1994 and August 10, 1994.
EACC, which has also moved to court seeking to have the property recovered from the private developer, has accused the parties involved of abuse of office, willful neglect of duties, conspiracy to commit a felony and obtaining by false pretense.