Amos Kimunya has case to answer in Sh60m land graft suit, judge says

Amos Kimunya

Former Majority Leader of the National Assembly Amos Kimunya during a past event.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The High Court has reversed acquittal of former National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya and former director of land adjudication Lillian Njenga from the Sh60 million graft case related to land.

Justice Esther Maina on Thursday ruled that DPP had established a strong case and the accused persons should have been put on defence. She found that, contrary to the ruling of the trial magistrate court, the prosecution had established a strong case against Mr Kimunya, Ms Njenga and Junghae Wainaina (chairman of the board of Midlands Limited).

The judge said they were not supposed to be acquitted but instead they should have been put in defence over allegations of fraud and abuse of office.

She then ordered Mr Kimunya and his co-accused to present themselves before Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi on October 11, 2022 to defend themselves.

The judge said a warrant of arrest will be issued if they ignore the summon.

“After considering evidence that was before trial court, this court is satisfied that the Director of Public Prosecutions had established a prima facie case and the accused should have been put in defence,” said the judge.

She was delivering judgment on an appeal filed by the DPP against the ruling of the magistrate court. 

The former Kipipiri MP becomes the first powerful politician in the former regime of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta to appear in court over corruption charges.

They had been acquitted in June 2021 on grounds that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

How the case began

The criminal case started in March 2014 after the three were arraigned at the Anti-corruption court over alleged irregular allocation of a 25-acre land in Nyandarua County to Midlands Ltd, a processing factory. The transfer is said to have been done in 2005. 

The case arose from Mr Kimunya's stint in the Ministry of Lands and Housing as a Cabinet Minister.

The abuse of office, fraudulent disposal and acquisition of public property charges against them followed investigations and recommendation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption commission (EACC). 

It was alleged that Mr Kimunya, while he was the Lands minister, caused the piece of land to be allocated to M/S Midlands Ltd, a company that was allegedly associated with him.

The land was part of a 75-acre land parcel belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture reserved for potato seed multiplication project.

The allocation of the said piece of land is alleged to have been done without the consent of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Ms Njenga had been charged with breach of trust and abuse of office while Mr Wainaina faced the charge of fraudulent acquisition of public property. Mr Kimunya faced various charges including fraudulent disposal of public property, abuse of authority, failure to disclose private interest and breach of trust. 

The charge sheet stated that on June 30, 2005, at Ardhi House in Nairobi while employed in public service as the minister of Lands and Housing, he abused his authority to “confer a benefit on Midlands Limited by causing the company to be allocated a public plot identified as Nyandarua/Njabini/5852 while knowing that the said land parcel was not available for alienation.”

He was also charged with failing to disclose private interests in the land deal. He was accused of failing to disclose that he was a director and allowed the allocation of a public land to the said company.

On fraudulent disposal of public property, it was alleged that while in employment as a public officer, he allowed transfer of the property to the company through a purported letter of offer while knowing the land in question was not available for allocation.

In regard breach of trust, the charge stated that he committed an offence by causing the disputed land to be disposed to a private entity. They denied the charges.