Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu has sensationally confirmed that President Kenyatta was deeply involved in two of the three land dealings that put her on the list of public officers under investigation for corruption.
Mrs Ngilu, who was forced to leave office to allow for the investigation, on Tuesday said the President personally made the decision to have Mr Evanson Waitiki paid Sh1.1 billion for land invaded by squatters in Likoni.
She further said Mr Kenyatta has sanctioned the governmentâ€™s to take-over of a 2.14-acre plot on State House Crescent in Nairobi.
Mr Manoah Esipisu, the Presidentâ€™s spokesman, said the Presidency would not comment on the matter. â€œWe canâ€™t comment on her statement to the EACC. We havenâ€™t seen her statement and we wouldnâ€™t make a statement,â€ he said when the Nation contacted him by phone.
The Cabinet Secretary, who was at Integrity Centre, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commissionâ€™s headquarters, told EACC officers that President Kenyatta was personally involved in the negotiations with Mr Waitiki for the purchase of his land.
She was accompanied by Chief Land Registrar Sarah Mwendwa and lawyers Nani Mungai and Peter Munge.
Mrs Ngilu said it was the President who offered to have the government pay Mr Waitiki Sh1.1 billion for the land. This took place, she said, during a meeting with Mr Waitiki at State House, Nairobi, in the presence of Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua. Mrs Ngilu was also present.
Mr Waitiki was asking for Sh9.6 billion, but government valuers said the land was worth Sh2.64 billion.
A September 2013 meeting of Treasury, Land and Agriculture Cabinet secretaries, their principal secretaries and other members of the Settlement Fund Trustees approved the purchase but after negotiations.
Despite the ministryâ€™s tender committee approving a pay-out of Sh2.64 billion, she said, Mr Waitiki declined to take it, and the President stepped in with the decision to pay him Sh1 billion.
After that, Mr Waitiki asked for Sh100 million more to cater for the costs of the cases against the government and legal fees due to his lawyers, she said.
â€œI communicated this request and a decision to up the offer by an additional Sh100 million was made by the President in my presence and that of Mr Rotich, the Treasury CS, on December 11, 2014.â€
The decision was made on the sidelines of the Northern Corridor Integrated Projects summit at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, she said.
The EACC reported in the List of Shame given to Parliament by the President that Mrs Ngilu was under investigation for colluding with Mr Waitiki to inflate the price for the land by Sh110 million.
â€œThe CS allegedly instructed valuers from the ministry to over-value the land by the same margin. From the aforementioned figure, Mrs Ngilu is allegedly going to get a kickback of Sh65 million once the land is bought by the government,â€ the dossier states.
Mr Waitiki told the Nation he was yet to get an offer commensurate with the value of his land and that the money Mrs Ngilu mentioned was not enough. However, he declined to state whether the President had been involved in the negotiations.
â€œI donâ€™t want to say anything that has to do with the President. I think the best thing is to seek advice as to what to say because when we start bringing in the President, that is not something I would want to get involved in,â€ he said.
In the second case, involving a prime piece of land on State House Crescent, near State House, she cites the Presidentâ€™s instructions that the land be the location of the Foreign Affairs ministryâ€™s proposed headquarters.
That land is the subject of a court case, where a company owned by an Ethiopian has sued Mrs Ngilu, the chief land registrar and the director of surveys, and implicates Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero in a scheme to grab it.
The plot had been handed over to the Nairobi City Council in March 1965 for use as a playground. That, according to the grant, was on the condition that it be used only as a playground. If not, the grant stated, the land was to revert to the National Government.
The anti-corruption commission states in the dossier that it is investigating an allegation by Myta Development Ltd of a scheme orchestrated by Lands officials, including the minister, to illegally take away the land.
The firm has filed a case in court in a bid to reclaim the land, which it says was surrendered to the government by the council and divided into four plots and a road reserve.
It claims it bought the land from owners of the four plots for Sh30 million and is now aware of a well-orchestrated scheme by Mrs Ngilu and other influential officials to grab it.
This, the company said, is through destroying the genuine land ownership documents and creating fake records.
Mrs Ngilu denied this, saying the land belongs to the government and the President had given express instructions on it.
â€œMy role in this matter has been limited to implementing the Presidentâ€™s directive to secure the land, which belongs to the government.â€
Mrs Ngilu said the only time she had contact with Myta was in January when Mr Joshua Kuttuny, one of the Presidentâ€™s advisers, went to her office and introduced a man said to be the owner of the company who asked her to go slow on the repossession of the land. She said she declined the request because she did not believe the President had sent the man.
Mrs Ngilu also distanced herself from the Sh8 billion Karen land matter, saying it was private land and the ministry was a defendant in a case over its ownership. â€œI have no further information to add on this matter,â€ she said.
SOURCE: The Nation