EACC summons Jirongo, Murathe, Atwoli over Sh200m land saga

The anti-graft agency also summoned several county officials who were responsible for the payment

In Summary
  • Even though Murathe said he was summoned over an ongoing probe into the Kemsa scandal it emerged he was wanted over the same saga.
  • He arrived at Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices at 3 pm and went in for grilling.
EACC offices at Integrity Centre.
CORRUPTION: EACC offices at Integrity Centre.
Image: FILE

Former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, politician David Murathe and Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli were Thursday summoned by EACC over an inquiry into Sh200 million land saga in Nairobi.

Even though Murathe said he was summoned over an ongoing probe into the Kemsa scandal it emerged he was wanted over the same saga.

He arrived at Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices at 3 pm and went in for grilling.

The commission is investigating a case of conspiracy to defraud.

In a statement to EACC, Murathe said on October 16, 2017, the firm of Wagara Koyyoko & Co. Advocates issued to his advocates Wambugu Muriuki & Co. advocates a professional undertaking to remit Sh60million from decretal proceeds of an ELC matter (ELC/507/2014 Kuza Farms and Allied Ltd vs NCC and Others Farms and Allied Limited), which undertaking was supported by security of land.

“The sum undertaken was in partial settlement of a debt owed to me by the managing director of Kuza Farms and Allied, S.K. Jirongo,” he said.

He said he received Sh25million in two instalments of Sh18million and Sh7 million from his advocates on or about July 23, 2020.

“This is my full statement on the circumstances leading to my receipt of the funds and I have no knowledge or involvement in the purported conspiracy to defraud the county,” he said.

He said it was only on receipt of the EACC letter dated October 27 that he had the opportunity to peruse some documents relating to the ELC matter.

“In particular, the consent between the parties dated July 6, 2016, and the resultant decree dated August 1, 2016, which are confirmed to the best of his knowledge was the source of the funds,” Murathe said.

He was still at the commission offices by 4 pm.

Atwoli is accused of receiving the money through a farm associated with Jirongo.

The farm received the money from Nairobi city county as compensation for land it claimed in Mukuru slums.

But an investigation by the commission found out the land in question belonged to a primary school and dispensary.

“Those who claimed the money as compensation did not have even a title deed to warrant being paid,” an official aware of the probe said.

After the farm associated with Jirongo received the money some of it is said to have been to Atwoli and Murathe.

It is the reason the agency wants them to explain the payments.

Also summoned were several county officials who were responsible for the payment.

Atwoli is out of the country on official matters.

Jirongo arrived at the Integrity Centre gate on Thursday but refused to get in after realizing journalists were waiting.

He wrote to the commission through his lawyer Wagara Koyyoko saying he will agree to be grilled in secrecy in his office in Westlands.

“We dutifully turned up at your offices with our client ready to provide any documents and information you require. To our dismay, we found Journalists right in front of your entrance. It was clear that they were there at your invitation specifically for purposes of covering this investigation as a news item,” Koyyoko said.

“It is in bad faith and an infringement on our client's right to privacy for you to seek to publicise an investigation that is at its formative stage. It betrays an intention to make political capital out of the matter contrary to a pursuit of the facts and justice.”

He added it is clear that the summons was intended to scandalise and paint his client in a bad light even before hearing them out.

“It is unlawful and immoral to seek to tarnish our client's name in the guise of investigations which are stage-managed,” he said.

The lawyer said the genesis of this matter is a civil dispute that runs back over 15 years and through many political administrations both nationally and at City Hall.

Atwoli said he had been asked to explain why he received the money that was seen to be illegal compensation and a conspiracy to defraud.

He said he received about Sh60 million from Jirongo as part of the refund of a Sh100 million he had lent him.

The balance was to be paid later. He said he did not know the source of the money.

The transaction is said to have taken place in 2020.

A court found that Jirongo was personally liable to pay Sh110 million to Atwoli.

The court ruled that the Cotu boss has the right to enforce repayment against the Sh100 million friendly loan he advanced Jirongo, plus Sh10 million interest.

Jirongo had in court papers admitted receiving Sh100 million friendly loan in 2016 from Atwoli that was payable in 50 days, with an additional Sh10 million interest.

He said the agreement had provided that the money would be recovered from the debt the Nairobi county government owes his company, Kuza Farms and Allied Ltd.

The judge in his ruling, dismissed this line of argument saying that “in the face of the unequivocal acceptance of August 10, 2016, by Jirongo, to be personally liable for the advanced sums, he cannot shift liability to Kuza.”

The farm is said to have demanded to be compensated and received more than Sh200 million.

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