Former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo and three co-convicts, who are serving three-year jail-terms over the controversial purchase of Sh283 million cemetery land in Mavoko, yesterday pleaded with the High Court to grant them bail pending the hearing of their appeals.
Justice John Onyiego, of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Division, allowed lawyers representing Gakuo, former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui, former Nairobi City Council Legal secretary Mary Ng’ethe and the former chairman of the defunct council’s tender committee, Alexander Musee to present their oral submissions and file formal ones.
On May 15, Nairobi Anti-Corruption chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti found them guilty of corruption-related offences and imposed fines and custodial sentences on each.
In his contested judgement, Ogoti held that Gakuo and Kirui failed to stop payment for the cemetery land to Naen Rech Ltd when they were in positions of authority to cancel the tender for the irregular purchase of the land that was reportedly worth Sh30 million.
The two were sentenced to three years in jail each and fined Sh1 million, for abuse of office and failure to comply with procurement rules.
Ng’ethe and Musee were convicted of providing false information that the defunct council’s tender committee had unanimously resolved to purchase the 120-acre plot that turned out to be rocky and unfit for burial purposes. Ng’ethe was sentenced to three years in jail and fined Sh52 million or one more year imprisonment while Musee was handed three years and a fine of Sh32 million one year in jail in default.
The land was intended to be a new graveyard to replace the filled-up Lang’ata Cemetery, which was declared full by the defunct Nairobi City Council in 1996— over two decades ago.
Last month, the Nairobi county government announced that the city is seeking an extra 200 acres of land to serve as public cemetery. But County Health Executive, Hitan Majevdia said the purchase may take up to one year to avoid controversy such as the one surrounding the Mavoko land.