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January 23, 2019

Why is Senate’s Ruaraka report yet to be debated? Legislators raise

Senate Public Accounts Committee Chairman Moses Kajwang' (L) with member Kimani Wamatangi during committee session. The committee is being accused of receiving bribe with regard to the Ruaraka Land Saga. August 28, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor
Senate Public Accounts Committee Chairman Moses Kajwang' (L) with member Kimani Wamatangi during committee session. The committee is being accused of receiving bribe with regard to the Ruaraka Land Saga. August 28, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor

A month after a Senate committee tabled its report on controversial Ruaraka land, it is yet to be scheduled for debate in the House, raising concerns among senators.

The Senate County Public Accounts and Investments committee tabled the explosive report on August 9, but sources in the Senate have told the Star that "some external forces could be trying to frustrate debate on the report".

"It is a concern that a month after the report was tabled, it is yet to be debated.The public is waiting for the next action," the source told the Star in confidence.

For the report to be tabled, it should be scheduled in the order paper by the House Business Committee, which is chaired by Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.

Other members of the committee include Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Minority leader James Orengo, Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni), Fatuma Dulo (Isiolo), Johnson Sakaja (nairobi), Mohamed Mahamud (Mandera), Samuel Phogisio (West Pokot), Petronila Were (Nominated) and Ledama ole Kina (Narok).

The committee chaired by Homa Bay senator Moses Kajwang has recommended that Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and Education PS Belio Kipsang be held personally responsible over the acquisition of the Sh3.3 billion land by the government.

But when contacted by the Star, Kajwang said, "The report was tabled and it's now the duty of the Speaker and the House Business Committee to schedule debate".

Read: Senators probe Ruaraka land as Sonko raises queries on rates

The watchdog committee also gave Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission three months to investigate the two, and if found culpable, they be prosecuted for violating a report by a Ministry of Education department recommending the land where Ruaraka High and Drive-In schools stand is public land and the claimant should not be paid.

Matiang'i was then the Minister for Education.

"If found culpable be prosecuted for occasioning loss of sh 1.5 billion in line with Article 266 (5) of the Constitution for ignoring the recommendations of a report of Quality Assurance and Standards Assessment, which established that the land on which Ruaraka High School was built on was public land, but went ahead with the acquisition of the land for the schools," the report by the committee chaired by Kajwang' recommends.

The report by the Quality Assurance and Standards task force was submitted to Matiang'i and Kipsang on February 3, last year — 11 months before the duo approved the payment of Sh1.5 billion to city businessman Francis Mburu.

This was part of Sh3.2 billion the government had agreed to pay before the scandal broke.

According to the report, the land was surrendered for public use by Drive-In Estate, a sister company to Afrison Import Export Limited, as a mandatory condition for subdivision of the 96-acre land.

The five-man team headed by Nairobi regional coordinator of Education John Ololtuaa concluded that Mburu had no basis, whatsoever, to seek compensation for the land, calling on Mohammed Swazuri (National Land Commission) and Matiang'i to hasten the processing of the school land documents to protect the property from grabbing or encroachment.

The team said Ruaraka High School occupied 7.6 acres as per the letter of allotment Ref. No 108096/57 dated June 28, 1999

In the report that is likely to exert more pressure on DPP to prosecute the officials also wants DPP, EACC and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to investigate top National Land Commissions including Mohamed Swazuri (Chairman), Abigael Mukolwe (Vice Chairperson), Tom Konyimbih (Commissioner), Tom Chavangi (CEO)and Salome Munubi(Director Valuation and Taxation) for their role that led to the payment of the taxpayers money.

The three institutions have been given three months to act on the recommendations.

Read: Firms seek orders to stop Senate from probing controversial Ruaraka land

"The director of Valuation and Taxation for misleading NLC on the amount of compensation to be paid for the land for the schools of sh 425,496,090(15% statutory disturbance allowance ) which was not applicable at the time of valuation as per the repealed Land Acquisition Act, Cap 295," the report says.

The report has not spared three companies -Whispering Palms Ltd, Afrison Export Import Ltd and Huelands Ltd- and has recommended that they should be made to pay back sh 1.5 billion taxpayers money and Kenya Revenue Authority should also investigate the three companies for possible tax evasion.

"KRA stated that neither the directors nor Drive- In Estate Developers Ltd,Whispering Palms Ltd, AfrisonExpoert Import Ltd and Huelands Ltd were captured in their legacy or i-tax system and therefore were not tax compliant," it says.

J.W Gatau , a Nairobi county official, the report recommend that he should held responsible for giving false information to the committee in regards to cancellation of the sub-division plan on the land and possible collusion to defraud the taxpayer sh 1.5 billion.

The other recommendations are that National Treasury or any other government agency should stop further payments to the claimants,students and teachers of the two schools be protected from harassment and the government should move in with speed to "secure the interest of the public".

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