The High Court has rejected an application by former Public Service and Youth principal secretary Lillian Mbogo Omollo for a site visit to her farm in Uyoma, Siaya County, to show proof that she earned millions from property and not from the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal.
Justice Mumbi Ngugi dismissed the application on grounds that it was a ploy to delay seizure of Sh33.1 million in Ms Omollo’s bank accounts by the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA).
Police attached to ARA claimed they had found no farming activity on the Bondo land, which was under shrubs, during their investigations of alleged theft of public funds from the NYS.
The State has frozen Sh33.1 million belonging to Ms Omolo on claims that it was linked to the NYS scandal.
“In my view, a site visit to a farm to establish whether or not such a farm can be the source of large sums of money deposited in bank accounts kilometres away would really be to chase after a mirage,” the Judge said.
She added that there was no evidence that Ms Omollo owns the said farm in Rarieda and there was no connection between the farm and the funds.
“The court might see the ‘green houses with the high level hydroponic farm system’, but this begs the question, how is the farm and the systems in the farm and the green houses translate into the funds held in the bank accounts in contention?” the judge posed.
Through lawyer Stephen Ligunya, Ms Omollo said the visit was critical as it would have helped the court make a just conclusion.
Mr Ligunya maintained that part of the money frozen by the court and which subject to forfeiture by the government, was proceeds from the farm.
The former PS, who has been charged over the loss of millions at NYS, claimed that she owned greenhouses, where she farmed tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelons among other crops.
The ARA also said that there were no tax filings to show Ms Omollo had additional income from farming, and termed the farming business as a disguise meant to conceal the source of the funds and a “classical scheme of money laundering”.
Shred of evidence
“There is no shred of evidence to show linkages between the funds in issue and the alleged farm which our investigations established does not exist,” said an ARA investigator.
“We established that there were no farming activities going on the land as alleged by the 1st respondent (Ms Omollo) … we established there was a piece of land with shrubs.”
Ms Omollo’s seven bank accounts had Sh20.6 million while those of her children — Sheela Mbogo, Stephanie Mbogo and Shalom Kamwetu — had Sh12.5 million.