Economy

Ex-NLC director Salome Munubi fails to block Sh221m demand by EACC

nlc

Dr Salome Munubi in court. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission says the money was lost through compensation made by NLC to two private companies for public land. 

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is seeking to recover Sh221 million from former National Land Commission (NLC) director, Dr Salome Ludenyi Munubi, who is also battling corruption-related charges in court.

According to EACC, the money amounting to Sh221,375,000 is the loss occasioned to the public through compensation made by NLC to two private companies for four public land parcels in Embakasi, Nairobi.

NLC acquired the land on behalf of the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) for the multibillion-shilling standard gauge railway (SGR) project.

EACC believes the four parcels were already owned by KRC, but NLC paid the private companies which were claiming ownership, leading to loss of public funds.

Attempts by Dr Munubi to stop the anti-graft agency from demanding the alleged lost public funds were blocked last week after the Environment and Land Court in Nairobi rejected her request.

She also wanted the court to allow her to file a judicial review case to quash a decision of the EACC made through a letter dated September 28, 2020 to demand money from her, which it says was erroneously paid to Dasahe Investments Limited and Olomotit Investments Limited.

But Justice Samson Okong'o dismissed the application saying he was not satisfied that Dr Munubi, who was the director of the valuation and taxation committee, had established a case against the EACC and the NLC to warrant the grant of her prayers.

"The applicant has not satisfied me that the respondents (EACC and NLC) have violated any of her rights in the demand that has been made against her by the EACC. The applicant has not disputed that the EACC has a statutory power to recover loss occasioned to the public through corruption or other illegal means," ruled Justice Okong'o.

Whether or not Dr Munubi is liable for the claim made against her by the anti-graft body is an issue that will be determined by the court which will hear the recovery proceedings that the EACC has threatened to institute, said the judge.

He also held that the letter Dr Munubi complained about is just a demand letter and if she fails to honour it, the EACC will have to institute civil proceedings for the recovery of the amount that has been demanded.

"When such proceedings are instituted, Dr Munubi will have an opportunity to defend herself. Most of the issues she has raised here as grounds for reviewing the EACC’s demand should form part of her defence in the said recovery proceedings," stated Justice Okong'o.

He told her that the court cannot determine in a judicial review proceeding whether the questionable compensation was validly made to the two private companies.                                                         

In her application, Dr Munubi wanted the court to issue an order compelling the NLC to recover the said amount of money from the two companies.

Compulsory acquisition

The alleged lost funds belonged to Kenya Railways while the four parcels of lands in dispute were public land.

She told the court that in her capacity as a director of taxation and valuation at the NLC, she participated in the process of compensation in respect of the four land parcels that were compulsorily acquired by the land commission.

She said the claim for compensation in respect of the suit properties had been made by the two companies, which claimed to be the owners.

Dr Munubi said the Kenya Railways had renounced any claim in respect of the suit properties and as such the properties were eligible for compensation.

"The EACC had insisted that the suit properties were owned by the Kenya Railways Corporation. The corporation had on its part maintained that it did not own the suit properties and as such the two companies were properly compensated," said Dr Munubi.

In 2018, $168,900 and Sh1 million were found in her house and EACC had insisted that the same were proceeds of crime and linked the money to compensation paid in respect of the suit properties.

She said that EACC filed a court case against her at the High Court’s Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Division in relation to the alleged proceeds of crime but the case was dismissed in April 2020.

Dr Munubi noted that EACC had also conducted an audit on her wealth and had made a finding that her wealth had been sufficiently explained.