Candidates named in Sh53 billion land deals

Mr. Raila Odinga

Key figures in the three main presidential campaigns have been named in irregular deals involving public land whose value was given as Sh53 billion.

Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka. Photos/ JARED NYATAYA

The government’s human rights watchdog accused top ODM and ODM-K leaders, including presidential candidates Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, of benefiting from public land transferred to private use under questionable deals. 

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights also said that PNU, the party sponsoring President Kibaki’s re-election, had benefited from contributions from business people who got public land irregularly under the Kanu administration.

Mr Odinga was blamed over the Kisumu Molasses Plant transaction while Mr Musyoka was also said to have benefited from public land in Ukambani. 

And the report blamed President Kibaki for failing to act against those who had benefited from irregular allocations.

Releasing the report Wednesday at KNHCR headquarters, the coordinator of the Kenya Land Alliance, Dr Odenda Lumumba, said: “Each one of the presidential candidates has let Kenyans down in one way or the other.”

“Some of them are in the ODM Pentagon and others are business people funding the PNU campaigns.” 

But Mr Odinga Wednesday denied any wrongdoing in his family’s acquisition of the Kisumu Molasses plant.

In a paid advertisement appearing in the Daily Nation, Mr Odinga dismissed the allegations saying the Odinga family-owned Spectre International acquired the land legally.

President Kibaki's campaign manager George Nyamweya said: “Those funding President Kibaki re-election campaign are people of integrity. And to say that they got their money through corruption is a very strange way of looking at issues.”

And Mr Musyoka said he had surrendered the parcel of land he was given at Masongaleni but he had “properly and legally” bought another in Yatta.

“All the land I own is in my wealth declaration form which I made public,” he said.

The news conference at which the report was unveiled was also attended by the KNCHR chairman Maina Kiai and Mr Paul Ndung’u who chaired the Ndung’u commission which investigated the irregular land transactions.

Scrutinise all leaders

Mr Ndung’u said Kenyans must scrutinise all the leaders seeking public office, lest they elect someone named in the Ndung’u report who will probably end up being appointed the minister for Lands.

The three indicted the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission for its lacklustre performance in recovering land or monies from the individuals named in the report.

They said out of the Sh53 billion of land stolen, KACC had only recovered Sh144 million worth.

“At this rate you can die and resurrect and I can assure you that KACC would not have recovered all the land,” Dr Lumumba added.

They also dismissed threats by retired President Moi that revisiting the land grabbing issue could tear the country apart saying failure to address it was more dangerous.

Mr Moi made the comments a few months ago shortly after Mr Odinga, who was also mentioned in the report, said he would implement the Ndung’u report if elected in the December 27 General Election.

Some of  the influential members named in the report are Mr Moi and members of his family, the Kenyatta family, Mr Odinga, ODM “Pentagon” member William Ruto, Education minister George Saitoti and Defence minister Njenga Karume. 

Others are former head of civil service and parliamentary aspirants Sally Kosgey, Gideon Moi, Sammy Mwaita, Kuria Kanyingi, Kipkalya Kones, Fred Gumo, John Serut and Cyrus Jirongo. 

Though Mr Musyoka’s name does not appear in the Ndung’u report, Mr Odenda said was a beneficiary of  public land in Mwingi.

However, some of the names mentioned in the report do not appear on the summary released by KNCHR and KLA.

Dr Lumumba said some key figures at the helm of the Nairobi Stock Exchange were also involved in land and property scandal, including the irregular sale of Continental House, which now houses MPs’ offices.

The land in question belonged to parastatals where the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) lost land worth Sh11.7 billion. Kenya Agriculture Research Institute also lost Sh1.3 billion while Kenya Railways lost land worth Sh1.5 billion.

Mr Odinga was named as a beneficiary of the Kisumu Molasses Plant land, Mr Musyoka of two parcels in Ukambani. President Kibaki was blamed of allowing individuals named in the Ndung’u report to continue holding and developing the parcels of land irregularly acquired.

Mr Odenda said: “It is the Government that commissioned the Ndung’u commission and sat on the report. Why has it not taken action?” Although there was minimal grabbing of land under President Kibaki’s leadership, his government has been criticised for failing to implement the Ndung’u report.

Mr Ndung’u, who was the chairman of the commission appointed by President Kibaki to investigate the irregular deals, said his team’s investigations “merely scratched the surface”.

The group challenged any Government elected next week to appoint a commission to complete the work started by Mr Ndung’u. Mr Kiai and Dr Lumumba said leaders named in the irregular deals should either surrender the land or pay for it at current market rates. 
  

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