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Ouko queries Sh1.5b in Integrity Centre purchase

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

Questions have emerged on whether the Sh1.5 billion spent on the compulsory acquisition of Integrity Centre, which houses the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), was exaggerated.

In a report tabled in the National Assembly by Leader of Majority Aden Duale, Auditor General Edward Ouko has indicted National Land Commission (NLC) for carrying out valuation of the property and land while it had an interest in it.

Ouko said he could not verify whether that was the exact cost of the project as the Lands ministry did not carry out the valuation as required by law.

“No evidence was availed for audit review to clarify whether the ministry played any role in the valuation of the property despite the fact that the Land valuation department in the ministry is mandated to provide valuation services,” he said.

In the valuation report conducted in February this year, NLC valued the property at Sh1.5 billion out of which land value was Sh795.4 million and improvements on the land were valued at Sh747.8 million. Four years ago, the property was valued at Sh400 million.

Reports show that NLC approved payments for its purchase at a special Compulsory Land Acquisition Compensation Committee sitting on July 5, which was chaired by NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri.

The EACC consequently deposited Sh1,518,000,000 for the acquisition and compensation. Officials said the office of the Attorney General had cleared a request to purchase three properties for the EACC.

On July 11, 2017, NLC had requested for express instructions to compulsorily acquire Integrity Centre and a day later the Attorney General instructed them to do so on behalf of EACC.

The commission then wrote on July 24, 2017 to the Lands principal Secretary cancelling instructions to assess and value the three properties.

“Although the NLC claims to have requested for valuation services from the Lands ministry, valuation was done by the commission,” reads the report.

According to Ouko, after the go-ahead by the committee, the EACC then requested the office of the Attorney general and Justice department to ask NLC to commence the compulsory acquisition of the property and it is to this effect that on September 14 NLC transferred and vested the property to the Principal secretary, National Treasury, to hold in trust for EACC

Yesterday, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said they would seek answers to the queries raised in the report.

 “We will be seeking to find solutions to the doubts raised on the sale of the building once we start interrogate the he matter.”

Currently, the EACC is paying a Sh5.83 million monthly rent, which amounts to about Sh70 million a year.  The amount was revised upwards in a 2015 lease renewal that was supposed to end this year.

The proposal for compulsory acquisition came after the Treasury rejected a request by the EACC to be given Sh400 million to build its own headquarters. Acquisition of Integrity Centre started during the then Kenya Anti- Corruption Commission (KACC) tenure.

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