Solicitor-General wants probe of State officials in Sh100m land scandal

ken ogeto

Mr Ken Ogeto, the solicitor general. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto wants State officials who occasioned payment of Sh100 million to a private individual in compensation for land owned by the government investigated and prosecuted.

Mr Ogeto told Parliament that officials at the Housing ministry may have colluded with a private developer to irregularly transfer a government land and house erected on LR No. 2093217 in Nairobi’s upmarket Kileleshwa Estate.

The prime property is located on the Makueni, Suguta and Oloitokitok roads.

He said there is no evidence of objection to the allocation of land to private hands from the ministry yet it was aware a civil servant occupied the property.

“Government officers who participated in the irregular allocation of the property…be investigated and held accountable in accordance with the law,” Mr Ogeto said.

The land was alienated for government housing and a government house HG 271 developed in 1948. But the land was controversially allocated to an army officer, Major Peter Kipchirchir Magut who later sold it to Hirji Seyani in 1999 at Sh5 million.

At the time Mr Seyani bought the property, Winston Orege, a civil servant, was paying rent to the government occupied house HG 271.

Mr Seyani went on to demolish the government house in readiness for the development of the plot.

However, the ministry maintained that the land was government-owned. In 2008, the government constructed residential houses on it and sold them to civil servants.

Mr Seyani moved to court to seek compensation and a court awarded him Sh100 million compensation and interest.

The government has since paid Sh133 million to Mr Seyani, a general building contractor, who claims to own the 0.7-acre disputed land. A further Sh23 million remains outstanding.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu raised the red flag on the payments and indicted the State Law Office for commission and omission in the lead up to the controversial payment.

“We note that there were serious lapses in the defence of the case filed by Mr Seyani against the Attorney-General in 2012,” Mr Ogeto told the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Ogeto blamed the Ministry of Housing for failing to disclose material facts to the State law office during the case.

“The instructions issued by the Ministry to our counsel did not take into account that title deed to the property was obtained irregularly because it required a Board of Survey approval to obtain government land,” he said.

He said the defense witness statement provided by a deputy director of Housing did not allude to the illegality of title held by Mr Seyani.

“Unlike in previous two cases, the instructions by the ministry of Housing were insufficient to support filing of sufficient deference and counter claim challenging the title deed,” he said.

Mr Ogeto said the Attorney General had resolved to pursue a review of the judgement on the basis that parties and their advocates have a duty to the court to make full disclosure of all material facts for and against their case.

“Based on the outcome of the review application, recovery proceedings for money paid out by government be instituted against Khimji and Bhimji Sevani and Mr Magut, jointly and severally,” he said.