People Daily

Four senators under probe for soliciting Sh100m bribe

Jamaican reggae artist Orville Richard Burrel aka Shaggy’s song It Wasn’t Me, will most likely be the three-word phrase four senators, who were allegedly caught on tape soliciting for Sh100 million from the man who claims to own the controversial Ruaraka land for a favourable report, will seek refuge in.

The bribe-taking bug, which was first sniffed out by People Daily and called into question the dishonourable acts of the legislators, especially those in the National Assembly’s committees, has apparently spread to the Senate.

The MPs defended themselves against claims of taking bribes. Some pleaded innocence and instead pointed fingers at others for taking as little as Sh10,000 to shoot down the report on contraband sugar.   

According to the alleged owner of the controversial land Francis Mburu, the senators, who were part of the House committee probing the payment of Sh1.5 billion for the land on which Ruaraka High and Drive-In Primary schools stand, had claimed to be emissaries of their colleagues.

They claimed the money was for the committee to enable them to write “a favourable report” on the probe that is threatening to claim the scalps of National Land Commission chair Mohammed Swazuri, Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and Education Principal secretary Belio Kipsang for authorising the payment for the land. 

The conversation, which was allegedly recorded by Mburu at a  city hotel where he met the senators, is being investigated by the police. This is after the businessman recorded a statement with Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and shared with detectives the audio recordings of the three men and a woman making the demands.

Yesterday, DCI director George Kinoti confirmed that Mburu had recorded the statement and his officers are investigating the matter.

“Yes, Mburu has already recorded a statement and a file has been opened. We shall summon the affected senators very soon to record statements,” he told People Daily.

In the audio handed to the police early this month, one of the senators is heard saying: “We can help you all…”

Contacted on the explosive dossier, which is likely to bring in a new twist to the saga, Mburu, who is said to have declined to give out any money “because he is innocent”, declined to comment saying the matter is being handled by police.

In a report tabled in the Senate two weeks ago, the Public Accounts Committee called for investigation and prosecution of individuals linked to the Sh1.5 billion land transaction.

They include Whispering Palms Estate, Afrison Export Import and Huelands Ltd directors for allegedly making fraudulent claim over the ownership of the land, leading to a loss of Sh1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money.

This led to the payment to Whispering Palms Estate without a duly executed deed of indemnity.It was later to emerge that the owners of the companies have a deed of indemnity issued by National Land Commission (NLC).

The Clerk of the Senate Jeremiah Nyengenye is understood to have asked Mburu to prove if he had the deed of indemnity. Reports indicate Mburu gave a copy of the indemnity to the Clerk last week “to prove glaring mistakes” in the report.

It also emerged that the Education ministry had acted on a Quality Assurance and Standard Assessment report on the land.

The Education PS sought the advice of the Attorney General on the report before action was taken. And based on the opinion of the AG that the ministry officials took action.

The team was formed to verify the existence of national government institutions, namely the Ruaraka Primary and High Schools, Drive-In Primary, establish circumstances under which the institutions were put up and proof of ownership of land on which the schools were built.

The team conducted its probe and forwarded its report to the PS, State Department of Basic Education and the Ministry of Education on February 3, 2017, before he sought the opinion of the AG.

NLC, which is constitutionally mandated to deal with land matters has insisted the land is private. The report is yet to be adopted by the Senate and there are divisions among members some who feel the process was unfair.

The report contradicts another done by the National Assembly’s Lands Committee. Whispering Palms Ltd, Afrison Export Import Ltd and Huelands Limited were indicted by the report.

The DCI and DPP should prosecute, if found culpable, directors of the three companies for making false claims on the ownership of the land resulting in the payment of Sh1.5 billion to Whispering Palms Estate without a duly executed deed of indemnity, the report further read.

The senators also recommended that the investigating agencies probe and prosecute the NLC officers if found culpable. In an earlier report, the National Assembly’s Lands committee accused EACC of failing to avert the loss of funds for not acting on time to freeze accounts of beneficiaries pending the conclusion of investigations.

Treasury was also censured for having authorised the payment without express request from the Education ministry, which was the acquiring ministry.

The owners of the land had demanded that they be paid Sh3.2 billion for the entire property. The probe comes at a time the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi is scheduled to launch investigations into claims of bribery against MPs.

MPs were recently on the spot for allegedly receiving bribes ranging from Sh10,000 to Sh20,000 to vote against a report on the importation of contraband sugar.

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