The family of independence hero Achieng’ Oneko has come to the defence of former Principal Secretary (PS) Lillian Omollo against claims that the Siaya farm she said earned her millions of shillings was fake.
Police attached to the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) claimed they found no farming activity on the Bondo land, which was under shrubs, during their investigations of alleged theft of public funds from the National Youth Service (NYS).
The State has frozen Sh33.1 million belonging to Ms Omolo, a former PS for public service and youth, on claims it was linked to the NYS scandal.
Nam Oneko, a son of the independence hero, dismissed the ARA's claims in a petition, saying their sister-in-law, Ms Omollo, operated a multi-million shilling horticulture enterprise that agency preferred not to establish.
He maintained the former PS owned greenhouses, where she farmed tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelons among other crops.
“I pointed out an adjacent field where we had just harvested over 48, 000 kilogrammes of water melons in April 2019, however, Mr Musyoki (ARA investigator) declined my invitation,” said Mr Oneko in the petition filed in court on Monday. He challenged the ARA investigator to provide video or photographic evidence of shrubs on the farm.
Ms Omollo’s 10 accounts with Sh33.1 million were frozen last October after investigators told the court that the ex-PS made cash deposits during the months when the theft of funds was reported at the NYS.
Mr Oneko challenged the court to visit the Bondo farm, as Ms Omollo petitioned the judges to view the horticulture business before issuing any fresh directions.
He said some greenhouses were empty because funds for their development were frozen on suspicion they were linked to the NYS theft.
Ms Omollo had argued that the ARA did not have proof that the cash in the accounts were proceeds of crime.
The amounts, she said, were from her farming business in Bondo and payments for consultancy services to her husband, Dick Oruko Oneko, who worked in South Sudan.
Mr Oruko is also a son of Mr Oneko.
“We established that there were no farming activities going on the land as alleged by the 1st respondent (Ms Omollo) … we established there a piece of land with shrubs,” said the ARA in court documents.
The agency also said that there were no tax filings to show Ms Omollo had additional income from farming, and termed the farming business a disguise meant to conceal the source of the funds and “classical scheme of money laundering”.
“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 the ARA investigator.