What you need to know:
- Now, the government plans to speed up the implementation of the technical city project, eyeing investment deals worth Sh100 billion.
- However, the High Court recently ruled that the planned flagship tech hub is a monument of fraud that was aided by senior government officials.
Glaring lacunas in the anti-corruption case trials that enable key suspects to go scot-free are major handicaps in the fight against this menace that allows the looting of public resources. Some well-connected people exploit these shortcomings to go scot-free.
A good example is the Sh1 billion Konza Technopolis land fraud case that involved, among others, former ICT Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo, now an ambassador, and Ukambani politician Johnson Muthama. Only three of their co-accused were convicted and jailed.
Now, the government plans to speed up the implementation of the technical city project, eyeing investment deals worth Sh100 billion. However, the High Court recently ruled that the planned flagship tech hub is a monument of fraud that was aided by senior government officials.
While the ICT ministry where Prof Ndemo was the accounting officer paid Sh1 billion for the 5,000 acres, one of the owners of the land was not paid a single cent. The valuation has also been questioned.
While members of the ranch that owned part of the land received Sh450 million, a few ranch officials pocketed the rest, a tidy Sh553 million. On July 4, High Court Judge Lawrence Mugambi convicted the three ranch directors for aiding the fraudulent scheme, resulting in a monumental loss. The convicts were among the four directors charged in 2014. One died while five others secured court orders barring their prosecution over the stolen hundreds of millions.
Judge Mugambi has delivered a stinging indictment of the criminal justice system that enables masterminds to escape. Prof Ndemo, former Machakos Senator Muthama and former Lands Commissioner Zablon Mabea managed to avoid prosecution.
Several other people also obtained court orders blocking their trial. All these were and remain innocent, but should have been subjected to due process to clear their names.
Judge Mugambi was convinced that the big fish manipulated the system into sanitising them but he hopes that State agencies will pursue justice for farmers who were duped into losing millions.
The lesson from this is that the anti-corruption laws need to be made water-tight so that they are not easily manipulated by some influential or politically well-connected individuals.