What you need to know:
- The commission is also investigating the source of the Sh144.6 million that Mr Sonko has so far paid out of the Sh498.5 million purchase price.
- Many unanswered questions remain, including how the governor took occupancy of the property he is yet to pay the full purchase price.
Questions have been raised on the sale of the Upper Hill property belonging to Kenya Railways' pensioners to Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) moved to stop the transaction.
On one hand, the management of Kenya Railways Staff Retirement Benefits Scheme (KRSRBS) have defended the sale, saying everything was done above board.
“This sale was above board. There were two previous open tenders done through newspaper adverts in 2017 and again in 2018. One was an international tender. All were non-responsive. The third open tender that was advertised in late 2018 led to this sale. The sale agreements were signed in 2019.
The scheme is bound by PPDA (Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act), hence the disposal through open tender. There was no irregularity,” KRSRBS acting CEO, Victoria Mulwa, told Sunday Nation.
EACC needs to expedite the investigations, otherwise pensioners will not be able to get their dues unless the balance of the purchase price is paid.
“As a scheme that is going through dire financial issues, we are hoping that the investigations will be expedited so that we can move forward. The pensioners have not been paid for 11 months now and we depend on property sales for survival,” she said.
Since the EACC launched investigations into the land deal with Primix Enterprises Ltd, a company associated with Governor Sonko, the commission has so far summoned Ms Mulwa to respond to claims that the land was undervalued.
“The EACC wrote to the scheme to halt the sale this month. We have complied and have recorded statements as required,” she said.
The commission is also investigating the source of the Sh144.6 million that Mr Sonko has so far paid out of the Sh498.5 million purchase price.
It is expected that the trustees who signed the contract for the sale, James Olubayi and Anthony Kilavi of the Corporate and Trust Pension Services Ltd, will also be summoned to give their side of the story to EACC.
“The investigations are still at preliminary stage and the commission will be contacting more people of interest as we move along,” EACC spokesman Yassin Ayila told Sunday Nation.
Mr Kilavi said he could no longer respond to media queries regarding the railways pension scheme, as their contract as trustees had ended and a new team had taken over.
Governor Sonko has denied claims of irregularity in the transaction and instead linked the investigations by the EACC to his stand on terminating the Deed of Transfer of Functions between City Hall and the national government.
“I believe the reports and alleged probe are malicious and may be a move to intimidate me to go slow on some of political and legal decisions I have taken in the last few weeks, specifically, my position on the transfer of functions to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and refusal to assent the Supplementary Appropriations Bill, 2020 into law,” he said.
Amid the ongoing investigations, many unanswered questions remain including how the governor took occupancy of the property he is yet to pay the full purchase price.
Primix Ltd was buying two subplots measuring 0.3001 hectares and 0.2025 hectares from the land, LR 209/6507, on Matumbato road, Upper Hill.
For the 0.3001 hectares, the purchase price was Sh298 million while the second subplot was being sold at Sh200.5 million.
The sale agreements for both pieces were signed on April 30, 2019. In both agreements, the buyer was required to settle the purchase price within 90 days of the signing of the contract, which would have been July 29, 2019. But more than a year later, the purchase price has not been fully paid.
According to Ms Mulwa, the delay in settling the purchase price was a result in getting approvals from Nairobi City County for subdivision of the land. The approval, she says, was granted in April this year.
“It was expected that the balance of the purchase price would be paid after the subdivision and upon obtaining the completion documents. That's what parties have been pursuing. The next steps are approval of deed plans by survey of Kenya and issuance of title by Ministry of Lands,” she said.
The other questions concern the past dealings on LR 209/6507. According to the documents regarding the piece of land that Sunday Nation has reviewed, between May 28, 2007 and March 11, 2008, three declarations were made by Caroline Nyororo and Salome Munubi, estate managers of KRSRBS and Kenya Railways Corporation respectively, to the effect that the certificate of title of LR 209/6507 had been lost or misplaced.
In each of those declarations, they were asking the registrar of titles for a provisional certificate of titles.
Most recently, Ms Munubi was a land valuation director with the National Land Commission and was recently forced by court to forfeit Sh18 million seized from her house.
One wonders what caused the disappearance of the title between those dates and why the declaration was being made multiple times for the same title.
In 2009, the title was reportedly transferred to Rajkosmag Company Ltd, which is linked to activist-cum-businessman Rajab Magut for Sh16.5 million.
The company reportedly paid Sh660,000 to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) as stamp duty when they applied for registration of the title in their name.
A current trustee of the railways pension scheme, James Kanyeki, says he is not aware of the transaction.
“We have the Legal Notice number 169 of September 2006 that transferred the land to the scheme in 2006. I may not be aware of the alleged transfer,” said Mr Kanyeki.
The alleged transfer of the piece of land followed the series of declarations of lost certificate title by officials of Kenya Railways and KRSRBS.