Kilifi leaders want the anti-graft agency to probe how land they say belongs to the Giriama community was used by a private company to secure a Sh250 million loan.
They have lodged a complaint with the Ethics and Anti-CorruptCommission over irregular use of collateral.
The leaders say the expansive Sh17 billion Giriama ranch was used as security for a Sh250 million bank loan secured in 2007 by Riva Oils Company Limited.
Riva Oils is linked to former Labour CS Kazungu Kambi. Its directors are Kambi, former chief Ezekiel Karisa and David Komen. Karisa died last year.
Yesterday, Kambi denied the company improperly used the land to secure the loan. “Riva Oils did not obtain the loan fraudulently. The directors of Giriama Ranching Company gave us the power of attorney and we went ahead to obtain the loan,” he said.
“Ezekiel Karisa and other directors gave us the nod. Saying we obtained the loan through fraud is not true.”
On Saturday, Kilifi North MP Owen Baya said if the African Development Bank auctions the 66,000 acres, it will displace more than 44,000 people in Bamba.
“My Attention has been drawn to an auction advertisement in the Daily Nation newspaper page 35 of July 23, 2018, under the headline ‘Auction of prime agricultural property ( 66,000-acre ranch in Bamba Kilifi fronting Voi River)’. This auction is fraudulent and a blatant theft of public limited property of Giriama Ranch,” he said.
“The directors of River Oils Company acquired the loan of Sh250 million and used a provisional title deed of the Giriama Ranch as a guarantee for the loan, claiming the original title deed was lost, while the genuine directors of the ranch actually were in possession of the title deed.”
Baya said the property could be auctioned after the firm defaulted. He urged the government to stop the sale with the aim charging those found culpable.
“We pray that Giriama Ranch be discharged from the bank loan and forthwith surrendered to the owners,” the legislators said.
He said the African Development Bank should also be investigated.
EACC deputy regional manager Alfred Mwachugha confirmed receipt of the complaint from the MP and promised that due process would be followed.
Kambi said Karisa midwifed the process of obtaining the title from Giriama Ranch. Karisa was also a director at the Giriama Ranch.
“As directors of Riva Oils, we were convinced the process was legal because some other directors from Giriama Ranch had signed the documents to grant us the power of attorney. How Karisa convinced them remains unknown. The rest of us are not directors at Giriama ranch,” he said on the phone.
Kambi said the bank has no justification to auction the ranch. He has instructed his company lawyers to seek a court injunction.
“These people are trying to frustrate the Giriama Ranching Company because they know they want to sell the ranch. They can’t auction it because they haven’t done any valuation. We’ve already repaid Sh100 million out of the Sh300 million,” Kambi said.
He said the bank always threatens to auction the parcel whenever a potential buyer shows interest.
Separately, Governor Amason Kingi said the county government has engaged a lawyer to stop the sale of the ranch.
“We want this whole process stopped and the directors of Riva Oils held responsible. The land can’t be sold. Very many people live there. The residents are very innocent and don’t know if there is a loan taken with their land as collateral. Let the directors of Riva Oils carry their own cross,” he said.
Kingi met the directors of Giriama Ranching Company and they confirmed having custody of the the original land title.
Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire said investigations will not end at blocking the auction but also unearth how the community property turned into private land.
“We will ensure the land goes back to the original owners, the residents. Directors of Giriama Ranching Company have no single piece of land there. They must surrender the land to the original owners who objected to the plan to convert it into private land,” he said.