What you need to know:
- A video clip of the three with one of Dr Kiongera’s representatives has been filed in court as evidence of the sale.
- The land has also been claimed by the United States International University and Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat have been dragged into a complex land battle involving a 20-acre piece of land in Muthaiga as it emerges that the duo may have negotiated a Sh500 million purchase price with US-based businessman George Kiongera.
A video clip of the three with one of Dr Kiongera’s representatives has been filed in court as evidence of the sale. The land has also been claimed by the United States International University (USIU) and Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi.
In February 2016, Mr Moi, Mr Salat and city lawyer Jinaro Kibet were seated at a table with a view of Nairobi’s skyline inside Sankara Hotel in Westlands. They were waiting for Mr Patrick Macharia Nderitu, with whom they were to discuss payment for a 20-acre piece of land in Muthaiga.
Mr Nderitu is the executive director of Diaspora Global Investments, a firm that helps Kenyans living in other countries to buy and sell property locally. Mr Nderitu was representing Dr Kiongera.
What the senator, Mr Salat and Mr Kibet did not know is that the man running late for the meeting would secretly record them on his phone and the video would become evidence in a complex land battle.
The three parties in the meeting had a history as Mr Nderitu in the past had aided both politicians in finding buyers for Kanu property worth millions.
In 2015, Mr Salat had asked Mr Nderitu to find a buyer for the Muthaiga land, saying the property was owned by former President Moi. Mr Nderitu was able to link the politicians with Dr Kiongera. Initially, Gideon wanted Sh35 million for each acre.
But Dr Kiongera’s counter-offer of Sh25 million per acre was eventually accepted. This meant the entire property would cost Sh500 million. The US-based businessman would be financed by Chase Bank, and he would acquire the property through Maestro Health Systems Ltd.
After agreeing the price, Mr Salat took Dr Kiongera’s representatives—his brother, one Mr Njenga, and Mr Nderitu on site visits. A Sh100 million deposit was agreed on and was to be paid to Triple OK Law. But as Dr Kiongera was putting together the funds, his representatives were requested to attend the meeting at Sankara.
When Mr Nderitu arrived, the senator was on a call. Gideon joked about Mr Nderitu being late for the meeting despite being a teetotaler, like him, who did not need to worry about nursing an early morning hangover.
Muthaiga land deal
“I was caught up in a bit of traffic, but I am now here,” Mr Nderitu said. Gideon then went straight to the point – he needed money urgently.
“The message I wanted you to pass to your principal is that [we need some funds urgently]... at least Sh30 million... And, of course, go through the same process with the lawyers. But we’d just like you to speed up,” he said.
“The figure with us was Sh100 million, which we had asked you to deposit... as a sign of goodwill... We will need your assistance and cooperation to... convey our message,” he added.
When Mr Nderitu asked when the funds were needed, Gideon said “as soon as yesterday”. Dr Kiongera, Mr Mwangi’s Muthaiga Luxury Homes and USIU all claim that they paid for the property. Collectively, they parted with Sh990 million.
The three buyers have their fate intertwined at the doorstep of former President Moi.
The filings by Dr Kiongera and Mr Nderitu have now posed a new question to the courts: Did Gideon act for or against his father in any of the transactions?
The lawyers representing parties and individuals mentioned adversely is a star-studded list of who-is-who in the legal fraternity.
Four senior counsels — Kenneth Fraiser (ICEA), Fred Ngatia (former President Moi), Zehrabanu Janmohammed (the estate of former President Moi) and John Ohaga (Triple OK Law) — are all in the case.
Others are Duncan Okatch (Maestro Health Systems Ltd), Katwa Kigen (Omwanza Ombati), Benson Ashitiva (USIU), William Githara (Muthaiga Luxury Homes), Paul Elkinton (Andrew Sunkuli) and Allan Kamau (Attorney General and Lands registrar).
On February 22, 2016 Dr Kiongera transferred Sh30 million to Triple OK Law as requested by Gideon. Just over two months later, Chase Bank collapsed after the Central Bank of Kenya learned that the lender violated several regulations.
The collapse slowed down the Muthaiga land deal, prompting Mr Salat and the Baringo Senator to threaten pulling the plug. But a deal was struck and Dr Kiongera eventually got Equity Bank to finance the deal.
Repaying the loan
What Dr Kiongera did not know was that he had just become the final ingredient in a potent concoction of a complex land battle.
Equity Bank was not aware that it had issued a second loan to finance purchase of the same property, and that the first release of funds was made to its own chief executive.
Dr Mwangi had through his Muthaiga Luxury Homes successfully applied for a Sh300 million loan to purchase the 20-acre piece of land in 2012.
His company is still repaying the loan to date.
Everyone did their due diligence and Equity financed Dr Kiongera’s purchase.
As Dr Kiongera’s transaction was proceeding, Mr Nderitu paid for a survey of the land. During one of the site visits, he noticed a man planting tomatoes on a small portion of the property.
When he inquired from Mr Salat, he was told the man had been given permission to farm, but would exit immediately transfer of the land to Dr Kiongera is completed.
After the transfer, Mr Nderitu found out that the man planting tomatoes was a General Service Unit (GSU) officer. The officer claimed that the land was owned by USIU, and that he decided to farm on it because it was lying idle and was not well taken care of. Mr Salat dismissed the officer’s claims, insisting that the land had not been sold to anyone else.
In July 2016, Mr Nderitu and Dr Kiongera did another site visit, and found guards from Riley Security training on the property. The guards said they were hired by USIU to protect the land but were also allowed to use it for their training drills.
The duo went to USIU and waited at the reception before being told to make any inquiries through Riley Security. At Riley Security, they were told USIU owns the land. Dr Kiongera sued USIU and Riley Security, and obtained orders allowing him to take occupation of the property.
Armed with the court orders, Dr Kiongera hired Mr Nderitu’s Diaspora Global Investments to clear bushes and fence the land. USIU then filed a suit against Maestro, Mr Moi and the Lands ministry.
The university said it bought the land from ICEA Lion General Insurance Company in 1999 for Sh90 million. It adds that ICEA bought the land from DPS International, which acquired it from former President Moi.
USIU's documents showed that Mr Moi had bought the land from Joreth Limited. USIU initially hired lawyer Paul Ndung'u to represent it in the suit. Mr Ndung'u was also among lawyers that helped USIU acquire the property from ICEA in 1999 through his law firm, Ndung'u Njoroge & Kwach Advocates.
Interestingly, Attorney-General Paul Kihara Kariuki was working for Ndung'u Njoroge & Kwach Advocates at the time. Mr Ndung'u assigned Mr Kariuki the task of representing USIU in the transaction.
USIU and Mr Ndung’u had a bitter fall-out in 2018. The university discovered that its lawyer was a director of DPS International and had not disclosed his dealings with the company or the disputed land.
After the fallout, Mr Ndung’u demanded payment of Sh150 million from USIU in legal fees. Dr Mwangi’s Muthaiga Luxury Homes then filed a suit against Dr Kiongera’s firm, Mr Moi, USIU and the Ministry of Lands.
Muthaiga Luxury Homes claimed to have paid the full purchase price to Mr Moi in 2012 after conducting due diligence to ascertain the land’s ownership.
Dr Mwangi’s firm dealt with Narok governor aspirant Andrew Sunkuli and Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Presidential hopeful Omwanza Ombati. In that transaction, Mr Sunkuli and Mr Ombati were representing former President Moi.
After Mr Moi’s death, Dr Kiongera asked High Court judge Aggrey Muchelule to order the setting aside of Sh2.5 billion from the former President’s estate to cater for his award in the land case in the event of a victory.
Interestingly, lawyer Zehrabanu Janmohammed, the administrator of Mr Moi’s estate, confirmed that the Muthaiga property is not in the former President’s will. The court ruled that the property cannot be considered to be part of Mr Moi’s estate.
While Mr Moi’s lawyer, Mr Ngatia, has filed documents in which the former President denies ever selling the land, Dr Kiongera has responded with correspondence contradicting that stand.
Dr Kiongera has filed letters exchanged by Mr Ngatia and Gideon, in which the latter asks that the court pleadings be altered to show that the land was only sold to Maestro.