What you need to know:
- DP responds to demands by Opposition leader that Weston be demolished, land confiscated, owners sued.
- Odinga was also Lang’ata MP, says DP, hinting that ODM leader did not raise any questions in the past.
Deputy President William Ruto has claimed that Weston Hotel in Nairobi was built in Lang’ata constituency when Mr Raila Odinga was both the Prime Minister and area MP.
In a message on his Twitter page, Mr Ruto also said the land on which the hotel sits was not a subject of the Ndung’u report on irregularly acquired land nor was it among the thousands of acres whose titles were cancelled by former Lands Minister James Orengo, a close ally of Mr Odinga.
“For the record, Weston was not in Ndung’u Report nor the many Orengo cancelled. It was built in Lang’ata over 10 years when Tinga (Mr Odinga) was area MP & PM,” Mr Ruto wrote on Twitter, a day after the ODM leader had asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to order the hotel demolished and the owners of the property prosecuted.
Tinga is a moniker for the former PM derived from his symbol of a tractor used when he ran for the presidency in the 1997 General Election.
The Deputy President did not, however, respond to the fact that various other government reports have stated that the land on which Weston stands was irregularly transferred from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to private hands.
Mr Ruto served as a Cabinet minister in the Grand Coalition Government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga. He was also the ODM lawmaker for Eldoret North while Mr Odinga was the party leader.
Mr Ruto later fell out with Mr Odinga and he decamped to form URP, which teamed up with TNA to form the Jubilee Alliance ahead of the 2013 election.
Mr Ruto became Mr Kenyatta’s running mate. The two defeated Mr Odinga and his running mate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, in the presidential election.
The Deputy President recently admitted that he owns a stake in the hotel, which was first thrust into the limelight in January after a property adjacent to it was fenced off, denying pupils at Lang’ata Road Primary School a playground.
The pupils were later tear-gassed during a demonstration to reclaim the playground. Weston Hotel denied involvement in fencing off the field.
Mr Odinga had, on Monday, demanded that the President order the hotel seized to prove that he is committed to the fight against corruption.
He had also demanded that the President suspend Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru over a financial scandal at the National Youth Service.
In a hard-hitting statement to the media, Mr Odinga said the hotel must be demolished and the land on which it sits be taken back by the State if the government was genuine in its fight against corruption.
“Demolish all structures erected thereon and initiate the prosecution of the owners of this property,” Mr Odinga had demanded.
While responding to Mr Odinga’s statement, Mr Ruto said: “Tinga must have forgotten that he already sent his man Jacob Juma (of the Erad scandal fame) to court over Weston hotel build (sic) when he was PM.”
HOTEL SUBJECT OF QUERIES
Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi, who has in the past acted as the lawyer for the hotel, said on Twitter that the land was bought from an individual.
When the hotel first hit the news headlines over the dispute with Lang’ata Road Primary School, Mr Ruto denied any interest in the hotel, though his close ally, suspended Agricultural Finance Corporation chairman Patrick Osero, claimed he was the owner.
The hotel has also been the subject of queries by the Office of the Auditor-General. In the report for the year ending June 31, 2012, the Auditor-General questioned the manner in which land belonging to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) was transferred to the hotel’s owners.
“As previously reported, records available indicate that five parcels of land belonging to the Authority were registered in the names of third parties,” said the report.
The land measuring 0.7733 hectares, belonging to Central Stores, an agency of the KCAA, was registered in the name of Weston Hotels.
“The circumstances under which the land was allocated and registered in the names of private individuals have not been explained,” concludes the report.