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November 18, 2018

Swazuri's deputy Abigail Mbagaya now under investigation

National Land Commission vice chairperson Abigael Mukolwe when she appeared before the Parliamentary Lands Committee on the 2017/18 supplementary budget estimates. April 25, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor
National Land Commission vice chairperson Abigael Mukolwe when she appeared before the Parliamentary Lands Committee on the 2017/18 supplementary budget estimates. April 25, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor

 National Land Commission acting chairperson Abigail Mbagaya is now herself under investigation. One file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions on Thursday.

Mbagaya was listed as a witness against NLC chairman Mohammed Swazuri, CEO Tom Chavangi and other managers in a court case last month over the fraudulent purchase of land for the Standard Gauge Railway.

The investigation is being run by a multi-agency team including the DCI, EACC, Bank Fraud Unit, and Asset Recovery Unit.

She has refuted all the allegations.

Vice chairperson Mbagaya is being investigated for the alleged allocation of land around Lukenya to her relatives under the Kivaye Self Help Group. The land had been set aside by government for resettling squatters.

Mbagaya said she only wrote a letter to implement a court order.

Read:NLC split as Swazuri fights back over job

 

“EACC is investigating the Kivaye issue. All of us (commissioners), not only me, have been summoned and have written statements. But interestingly this is private land where we don’t have powers to allocate,” she said.

She said her relatives and family cannot be barred from buying and owning property just because she is in the NLC.

On Thursday the Kivaye file was handed to the DPP for his consideration.

Mbagaya denied receiving Sh400 million to facilitate processing of leases for two parcels of land LR 209/19 and LR 209/20 in Dandora and Ruaraka. The investigation might extend to other commissioners.

The probe team is also investigating an allegation that she received a car as a gift from a salt firm in Kilifi.

“We did an inquiry into the entire salt sector on grants and disposition in that area. It wasn’t specific individual farms but we looked at all farms in the salt sector, after complaints from squatters,” she said.

“I am not aware of that token. The inquiry report is ready. I can't share its decisions because it hasn’t been gazetted therefore it is not yet a public document,” she said that she only owns one car which she personally imported. 

“Investigators are also tying together details of large international money transfers that she frequently does,” a source familiar with the investigation told the Star.

“I have a son in Japan who studies there and who was there long before I joined the commission,” she said. The son went to Japan in 2011.

Read: How Swazuri authorised suspicious payout for SGR land

Her former aide has also made a statement to the police and investigators.

The aide claims that Mbagaya sacked him for receiving Sh10 million from David Barno Some, a director of Keibukwo Investment.

In 2015 Some allegedly approached Mbagaya and another commissioner to acquire the lease of Caxton House on Kenyatta Avenue which due for renewal and which belonged to Sayani Investments. In exchange Some was to pay Sh10 million.

“Some handed us the box with the cash which we took to the car owned and driven by another commissioner. The commissioner was to deliver the same to Mrs Mbagaya. I declined the offer to board the same car as I had class,” the aide said in his affidavit.

In the evening Mbagaya allegedly called him and complained that Sh2 million was missing.

“There was suspicion that I might have pinched part of the bounty. She wanted an explanation. I contacted Some and conveyed the message but he told me he had hived the money,” the statement reads.

Some demanded his money back after the deal did not go through and stormed Mbagaya's office several times last year and this year.

Some has been unavailable for comment this week. 

Sayani Investments are presently in court trying to block the transfer of Caxton House to Sadhani Ltd and Keibukwo Investment.

Mbagaya turned the aide out of her office and tried to get him sacked from the National Police Service, the aide claimed in his affidavit.

“I discharged my bodyguard in early July. We have been with him since 2013. I did so after I received complaints that he had stopped being my bodyguard and transformed himself into my PA handling letters. I also had issues of fraud and extortion against him,” Mbagaya said this week.

“What could I do to such a person, someone with a gun? I have no dispute with him. But I understand he has been picked up by people who are fighting me. They have hired a lawyer for him and given him money to fight me. We know those who are meeting him in his house to write negative statements about me,” she added.

Mbagaya was non-committal about whether the NLC commissioners would resign as demanded by civil society.

“We serve at the public pleasure, and our term is coming to an end. But these things are hurting us. I read just intimidation,” she said.

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