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Senate wants CS held responsible for Ruaraka scam

Dinah Ondari @dinahondari

Rattled! That is what a Senate committee did to the tough-taking and no-nonsense Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i, who it yesterday hurled into the murky waters of the Sh1.5 billion Ruaraka land.

In a bold verdict that strikes a blow for accountability by public officers, the Senate Public Accounts and Investment committee (CPAIC) recommended that the CS be held personally responsible for the loss of the cash in the scandal—in a case of the State buying its own land!

The watchdog committee also wants Matiang’i and Education Principal secretary Belio Kipsang probed and prosecuted for orchestrating the loss of taxpayers’ money.

They said according to Article 226(5), the two public officers by approving the payment, are personally responsible for the loss of taxpayers’ money.

“If the holder of a public office, including a political office, directs or approves the use of public funds contrary to law or instructions, the person is liable for any loss arising from that use and shall make good the loss, whether the person remains the holder of the office or not,” it states.

The transaction to buy the land happened when the CS was in charge at the Education docket. Belio is still the ministry’s PS. 

Matiang’i and Kipsang were also censured for ignoring recommendations of a report of quality assurance and standards assessment which established that the land on which Ruaraka High and Drive-In Primary schools are built was public, but went ahead with the acquisition of the property for the institutions.

According to the report, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI)  and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should also investigate the circumstances “that caused Matiang’i and Kipsang to ignore report.”

Additionally, the committee  recommended that the DCI,

DPP and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) recovers the Sh1.5 billion from three companies that were fraudulently paid by the National Land Commission (NLC).

The companies in question are; Whispering Palms Ltd, Afrison Export Import Ltd, and Huelands Ltd. The report is a contrast from another one done by the National Assembly’s Lands committee which did not make any recommendations on Matiangi’s role in the saga.

Team recommendation

The Senate report tabled yesterday, however, concurs with the National Assembly that NLC chairperson Mohammad Swazuri, his commissioners as well as his staff members be held responsible for recommending the partial payment of Sh1.5 billion for Ruaraka land.

Others recommended for investigations and prosecution if found culpable are NLC vice chair Abigael Mukolwe, commissioner Tom Konyinbih, chief executive Tom Chavangi and Salome Munubi, the director valuation and taxation.

The committee also wants one J W Gitau, a Nairobi City County officer, probed and prosecuted for giving false information on the cancellation of the subdivision plan of the land and possible collusions to defraud the taxpayer.

It says the investigations and prosecutions should be done within the next three months.

The Senate Committee report comes almost three weeks after the National Assembly Lands Committee that investigated the same scam had spared Matiang’i and Kipsang’.

The report had instead recommended for the prosecution of Swazuri and his team.

To cushion students, pupils and teachers of Ruaraka High School and Drive-In Primary School from harassment, the committee has asked the Education ministry to take measures to protect them from any inconveniences occasioned by the fact that the institutions sit on the controversial land.

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