Ruto rewards Basil Criticos with govt job

Basil Criticos

Former Taveta MP Basil Criticos.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has named former MP Basil Criticos, the man who sold him 2,500 acres in Taita Taveta County, as chairperson of the Kenya Trade Network Agency board for three years.

At the same time, the President has revoked the appointment of Mugambi Imanyara as chairperson of the agency. He was appointed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The changes are contained in the latest edition of the Kenya Gazette.

The agency, which is part of the National Treasury, is mandated to facilitate cross-border trade and to establish, manage and implement the National Electronic Single Window System (Trade Facilitation Platform).

Mr Criticos is a famous name among Coast residents and is one of the richest people who own large tracts of land.

A former MP for Taveta, he was defeated by Dr Naomi Shaban in the 2002 elections after serving for many years.

During the Kanu era, Mr Criticos served as deputy minister of Roads and Public Works.

He was one of the key people during President Moi's leadership and his relationship with President Ruto stems from Kanu, where he also served as an MP for years.

Land Politics

In 2017, Mr Criticos sold 2,536 acres of land to President Ruto when he was serving as Deputy President under the Jubilee Party administration of Uhuru Kenyatta.

The land deal was at the centre of the presidential campaigns in 2022 with Dr Ruto and Mr Criticos forced to defend it.

Dr Ruto had opened up on the controversy surrounding the 2,536-acre Mata Farm in Taita-Taveta County, saying he genuinely owned the land.

He said he acquired the land after he helped Mr Criticos to offset a loan he owed the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC).

“I am also a Mata elder because I helped the former Taveta MP to settle his loan at AFC and he gave me a portion of land,” he said.

The former MP, for his part, said the land was bought at market price and the documents were approved by the Taita Taveta Land Control Board.

“I did not do him any favour and if he had quoted below the market value, I would not sell the land to him,” Mr Criticos said in July last year.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga also waded into the matter and promised to investigate it if he won the presidency.

“He (Ruto) describes the 2,500 acres in this county as if it’s too little, yet there are people here who are landless,” Mr Odinga said at the time.

Former Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, who was to be the Land Cabinet Secretary under an Odinga presidency, also promised during the campaigns in Taita to investigate how Mr Criticos acquired the vast land of sisal.

“Why did he not give the land to residents? He should have started with the locals,” Mr Joho said.

In other appointments on Friday, President Ruto appointed Ann Wambui Njuguna as chairperson of the Uwezo Fund Oversight Board for three years.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen has appointed Adrian Kamotho Njenga as chairperson of the Transport Licensing Appeals Board for three years.

Mr Kamotho, a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) lawyer, was appointed chairperson of the Capital Markets Tribunal in April by Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u in a Gazette Notice dated April 20.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has also appointed Sarah Kabira to the board of the Communications Authority of Kenya for a period of three years, revoking the appointment of Mr Nicholas Kamuya Ngarua.

Mr Owalo has also appointed Ms Evalyn Koiyan, and Ms Bevin Angellah Bhoke to be members of the council of the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC), and revoked the appointment of Mr David Mwangi Kuria and Mr Ezekiel Onyango.

Trade CS Moses Kuria appointed Mr Geoffrey Omenke, and Mr Joe N Muriuki to the board of the Export Processing Zones Authority.

Mr Kuria has also picked Florence Wangui to be a member of the board of directors of the Kenya Investment Authority for three years.

East Africa Community CS Rebecca Miano appointed Ms Justina Chepnyango, Mr Reuben Chepsongol, Ms Rosemary Nchinyei Parengiro, Ms Christine Jepkoech and Mr John Lanyasunya to be members of the Kerio Valley Development Authority board for three years.

Water CS Alice Wahome appointed Mr Julius K Ndumbi to the board of the National Irrigation Authority for three years.
At the same time, Mining CS Salim Mvurya revoked the appointment of Mr Stephen Kuria as the chairperson of the Mineral Rights Board.

Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi announced the appointment of Johana Cheruiyot to be a member of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, for three years.

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge also gazetted the change of name of First Community Bank Ltd to Premier Bank Kenya Ltd.