Matiang’i, Swazuri in trouble over Ruaraka land

Fred Matiang'i Mohamed Swazuri Ruaraka
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i and National Lands Commission chairman Mohamed Swazuri. FILE PHOTOS | NMG  

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i and Muhammad Swazuri, National Land Commission (NLC) chairman, are in a tight spot after the Senate recommended that they be held to account for loss of Sh1.5 billion in the Ruaraka school land saga.

The Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC), in a report tabled in the House yesterday, named Dr Matiang'i, Prof Swazuri and Education principal secretary Belio Kipsang as principal participants in the multi-billion shilling scam that allowed public funds to be paid out for land that already belonged to government.

It was the first time that Dr Matiang'i’s name officially featured in the controversy that has been raging for more than a year.

He served as the Education Cabinet Secretary until his transfer to Interior by President Uhuru Kenyatta in January.

The Senate has directed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to recover the Sh1.5 billion from the individuals involved.

The committee’s report also recommends that directors of Whispering Palms Estate, Afrison Export and Import and Huelands Limited be prosecuted for making fraudulent ownership claims on public land.

Two public schools, Drive Inn Primary and Ruaraka High School, are situated on the land.

Fraudulent sale

The Senate committee also wants the NLC’s vice-chairperson, Abigael Mukolwe, commissioner Tom Konyimbih, chief executive Tom Chavangi, and director of valuation and taxation Salome Munubi investigated for their role in the fraudulent sale and if found culpable prosecuted for causing loss of public funds contrary to Article 201(d) of the Constitution.

The report singles out Dr Munubi for investigations arguing she misled the NLC on the Sh425.49 million (or 15 per cent statutory disturbance allowance) that was paid for school land but was not applicable at the time of valuation as per the repealed Land Acquisition Act, Cap 295.

The Moses Kajwang-led committee said Dr Matiang’i and Dr Kipsang should be held responsible for occasioning loss of public funds in line with Article 226(5) of the Constitution.

Dr Matiang’i and Dr Kipsang are accused of ignoring recommendations of the quality assurance and standards assessment team, which established that land on which Ruaraka High School stands is public, and going ahead with acquisition plans for the same.

“The DCI and EACC should within three months carry out investigations on the circumstances that caused then CS, Dr Matiang’i and the principal secretary, State department of Basic Education, Dr Kipsang, to ignore recommendations of the Quality Assurance and Standards Assessment Report,” the committee says.

The House team wants the DCI and the EACC to find out why the Ministry of Lands failed to conclude issuing of title deeds for Ruaraka High School and register government interest on the land prior to 2012.

Besides, the senators want the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to assess relevant tax obligations by Drive-In Estate Developers, Whispering Palms, Afrison and Huelands since 1981 and recover the taxes due with attendant penalties.

“Afrison Export Import, Huelands, Whispering Palms and Equator Brent were the companies involved in the ownership and sale of land that was not registered with KRA and were not tax-complaint,” the KRA said in its submissions to the committee.