Scandal lands NHC executives court action
Posted Tuesday, July 24 2012 at 20:54
Only 39 applicants were able to raise the 20 per cent deposit requirement in the 105-unit housing scheme in Kileleshwa, according to the minister, revealing how high the homes were priced, cutting out a majority of prospective buyers.
Senior National Housing Corporation (NHC) executives will face legal action in coming months over their role in the fraudulent allocation of houses built by the State-owned firm.
Housing minister Soita Shitanda on Tuesday said the officials, including James Ruitha, who was sacked as managing director of NHC, will be prosecuted for the scandal that left up to 21 units of upmarket apartments in the hands of senior government officials.
Also facing legal action are Manasseh Wandabwa and Elizabeth Mbugua, previously the company’s finance director and company secretary respectively.
Mr Shitanda accused the executives of using their positions to fraudulently benefit from multiple allocations of houses, essentially denying other Kenyans a chance to own the property.
Ms Mbugua is accused of illegally acquiring 21 of the 178 units, Mr Wandabwa got nine while Mr Ruitha allocated himself four of the apartments located in Nairobi’s upmarket Kileleshwa estate.
“We are awaiting a report from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, but indications are that they will be charged with abuse of office,” said Mr Shitanda, who absolved senior government officials from any blame in the scandal.
The EACC’s will be the third report on the fraudulent allocation of the houses after the Efficiency Monitoring Unit and the Inspectorate of State Corporation’s reports.
The two reports had unmasked the senior executives and top government officials who took advantage of the loopholes in the allocation policy to enrich themselves.
Mr Shitanda said that while there are no express laws limitiming the number of houses one can buy from NHC, the senior executives were culpable of an offence because they used their offices for personal gain rather than promote equity and fairness.
NHC staff have access to home loans from the parastatal at concessionary rates - giving them an edge over ordinary Kenyans with an interest in the houses.
The EMU and the ISC reports also recommended that the senior executives be investigated over the house allocation scandal.
Mr Ruitha, who had earlier expressed interest in applying for an extension of his contract as the managing director, is now barred from participating in the process – with the legal action acting as a challenge to his compliance with the high ethical standards demanded of public officers under the new Constitution.
Yesterday, Mr Shitanda named Patrick Bucha to act as the managing director at NHC, pending the recruitment of a substantive holder of the office through a competitive process.
The minister also appointed Grace Wanyonyi as the chair of the corporation’s board in an acting capacity after he revealed that Bosire Ondego, the suspended chair of the board was allocated five apartments.