How claims of dubious land deals are hurting DP’s image

What you need to know:

  • “As previously reported, records indicate five parcels of land belonging to the authority were registered in the names of third parties,” the report noted in reference to a 0.7733-hectare piece of land belonging to KCAA’s Central Stores.
  • The Chief Conservator at the Environment and Natural Resources ministry is said to have confirmed to investigators that 33 plots passed to KPC were actually forest land.
  • “The evidence adduced by the prosecution does not support the particulars of the charges facing the accused persons,” Nairobi Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei ruled.

Deputy President William Ruto’s otherwise illustrious political career has been blighted by allegations of questionable land transactions.

On two occasions in the last five years, Mr Ruto has been dragged to court over suspect land deals.

In its audited report for the year ending June 30, 2012, the Auditor-General’s office questioned how a piece of land belonging to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) was transferred to the owners of the Weston Hotel on Lang’ata Road, Nairobi.

“As previously reported, records indicate five parcels of land belonging to the authority were registered in the names of third parties,” the report noted in reference to a 0.7733-hectare piece of land belonging to KCAA’s Central Stores.

“Circumstances under which the land was allocated and registered in the names of private individuals have not been explained,” it added.

Mr Ruto has since admitted having interest in the hotel, but explained that the owners bought the property from people who had been allocated the land.

In 2010, Mr Ruto was charged alongside Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita and businessman Joshua Kulei over the sale of land to the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) in the 1990s.

Mr Ruto, Mr Mwaita and Mr Kulei – who was an aide to retired President Daniel arap Moi – were accused of fraudulently selling forest land to the KPC.

The court heard that various companies involved in the sale of Ngong Forest, including Berke Commercial Agencies and Celtic Multisystems Companies that are associated with the DP.

FOREST LAND

The Chief Conservator at the Environment and Natural Resources ministry is said to have confirmed to investigators that 33 plots passed to KPC were actually forest land.

He told the court the parcels were not part of the 82 hectares degazetted from Ngong Forest in 1996.

He is alleged to have received Sh57.8 million for the sale of two parcels and another Sh28 million for a parcel of land in the same forest. Berke Commercial Agencies was accused of falsely obtaining money from KPC in 2001.

The court, however, ruled in April 2011 that there was no adequate evidence to charge the three.

“The evidence adduced by the prosecution does not support the particulars of the charges facing the accused persons,” Nairobi Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei ruled.

“The prosecution has not proved any prima facie (on the face of it) case against all the accused and I hereby acquit them for lack of evidence.”

In his ruling, Mr Mutembei said there was no evidence that Mr Ruto, Mr Kulei and Mr Mwaita and five firms associated with them received any money from the KPC. He said the prosecution failed to call Ms Hellen Njue, KPC’s Finance Officer, who allegedly released the money to the accused.

“The prosecution didn’t call its star witness, Hellen Njue – who purportedly released the money to the accused. Therefore, the court finds that there is no evidence,” Mr Mutembei ruled.

In June 2013, High Court Judge Rose Ougo ordered Mr Ruto to surrender a 100-acre farm in Uasin Gishu and pay a farmer who had accused him of grabbing the land a Sh5 million in compensation.

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