Man about town

Million-dollar questions around Waititu's billions

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Former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NMG

When Ferdinand Waititu Baba Yao contested for the March 2013 Nairobi gubernatorial seat and lost to Evans Kidero, a newcomer in politics, he challenged the outcome in court.

Justice Richard Mwongo who heard the election petition dismissed the case, but Waititu moved to the Court of Appeal and had the results cancelled.

One judge, however, was not persuaded that the points Waititu raised were massive to upset the wishes of the Nairobi voters.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Mohammed Warsame dedicated acres of space describing both Kidero and Waititu.

“The contest, literally speaking, is between two men who stormed Nairobi, like many of us, from opposite directions. Both are genius for their self-creation. One is a good friend of enthusiastic journalists and newscasters for his propensity to make headline news. The other is a conservative, dignified, image-conscious man of the old school of politics,” the judge said.

Justice Warsame said Waititu is perceived as an unrestrained populist, best known for taking no prisoners in pursuit of his political goals but Kidero was an outsider with no political experience, scholarly and persuasive manager.

The judge went on to describe Waititu as the darling of the common man, formidable and aggressive. He was a man who speaks English “with a lot of difficulty, and with a heavy and prodding tribal accent’.

According to the judge, Kidero’s win was overwhelming but Waititu was deluded to believe he was more popular in Nairobi.

Although two judges of the appellate court ruled in favour of Waititu, the decision was overturned by seven judges of the Supreme Court.

Impeached governor

Waititu later went and tried his luck in Kiambu County, first as Kabete (now Kikuyu) MP in a by-election and later Kiambu governor where he ousted William Kabogo in the 2017 general election.

His stay as the Kiambu governor was short-lived as he was impeached for gross misconduct.

He was accused of three counts of gross violation of the Constitution, abuse of office, gross misconduct and committing crimes under national laws.

The Kiambu assembly accused him of diverting funds intended for use by the assembly to projects where he would obtain personal benefits through irregular procurement.

What irked most Senators was the accusation that he irregularly transferred a parcel of land in Thika belonging to a widow in January 2018 to Esther Wamuyu Nyatu.

The widow got back her property, following the intervention of the Commission on Administrative Justice.

Before that, Waititu, his wife Susan Wangari Ndung’u and daughter were charged with fraud over irregular tenders at the county worth Sh588 million.

His fall, since then, has been epic. This week, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) got orders freezing properties worth close to Sh2 billion suspected to have been obtained illegally while he served as the Kabete MP and later Kiambu governor between 2015 and 2020.

Private gain

The man, whom Justice Warsame described as an endearing and sometimes overzealous son from Eastlands who symbolises hard work, poverty and resilience all in one basket, is likely to lose two prime buildings on Biashara Street and a hotel in the same street, all valued at Sh662 million.

The anti-graft body accuses Waititu of exploiting his position for private gain by involving himself in transactions that were in conflict with public interest and amassed wealth that was disproportionate to his known legitimate sources of income.

It is alleged that he amassed wealth to the tune of Sh1.93 billion, which is not commensurate with his known legitimate sources of income.

Other properties being targeted include houses in Runda, Lakisama, Migaa Estate, Runda Grove and parcels of land in Embakasi Ranching, Thindigua and Kayole, all amounting to Sh280 million.

The EACC wants to seize Waititu’s seven vehicles all valued at Sh24.4 million and cash at bank.

Some of the properties in Kabete and Kitengela have been registered under his wife’s name, while others have been registered under his companies, including Saika Two Estate Developers Ltd, Lexis International Ltd and Bins Management Services Ltd.

Integrity law

Court documents show that Waititu, his wife and companies made cumulative deposits of Sh1.3 billion and the court should decide whether they should be made to surrender the haul.

The Commission further says that between January 2015 and January 2020, Waititu did not submit his statutory declaration for his income, assets and liabilities under the Public Officer Ethics Act, and Leadership and Integrity Act.

The EACC says he was asked to explain his wealth in September 2021 but has never furnished the ethics agency with any explanation on the sources even after the period was extended to him.

Perhaps Justice Warsame erred when he said Waititu, to his credit, has used his abrasive, overzealous and combative attributes, positively.

His rise to power was quick, from a councillor, city mayor, an MP and later governor. He is, however, likely to lose the wealth he has built over the years.

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