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NLC hands Weston to Ruto, KCAA protests

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The National Land Commission has established that Deputy President William Ruto’s Weston Hotel is built on public land but will not order it to be demolished.

In a decision causing a storm between the NLC and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, the commission wants Ruto compelled to pay for the 0.773ha plot opposite Wilson Airport at the current market rate. Last year it was valued at Sh300 million.

Read: How DP Ruto Acquired Weston Land, Documents Show Plot Belonged To The Public

But KCAA, which is Kenya’s air travel regulator, insists the four-star hotel should be torn down because it is compromising safety.

The authority says buildings near the airport should not be higher than two storeys but the Weston has five floors.

Ruto also failed to secure necessary approvals from KCAA.

Also Read: How Weston Hotel land was grabbed from KCAA

It had wanted to build its headquarters there.

KCAA Corporation secretary Cyril Wayong’o confirmed to the Star that NLC had recommended that it be compensated.

He protested against the NLC decision, saying it will entrench impunity and revealed that the parastatal’s board of management will sit and consider an appeal.

“It will mean going forward that somebody can just grab public land and allege that he or she is an innocent purchaser, and thereafter decide to compensate, which is wrong,” he said.

The NLC conclusion that the parcel is public land is likely to put Ruto on the spot following years of denial and statements that he acquired the property legally.

In 2013, the High Court ordered Ruto to surrender a 100-acre farm in the Rift Valley and pay Sh5 million as compensation to the rightful owner, Adrian Muteshi.

During the Weston probe, Ruto’s lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi told NLC commissioners that the defunct Directorate of Civil Aviation had been given alternative land.

Read more: Airports agency fights to recover 11,000 acres from JKIA grabbers

However, he could not pinpoint the location of the two alternative parcels or give their reference numbers.

Abdullahi said the DP acquired the land in 2007 for Sh10 million from Priority Management Ltd and Monene Investments Limited

Before the NLC took over investigations on the Weston Hotel land, President Uhuru Kenyatta had ordered relentless demolition of structures built either on road reserves or riparian land.

Among the towering structures that were brought down were the Taj Mall, Ukay Centre and South End Mall.

Land sector players blamed the NLC for applying double standards in its policy directions.

“There are a lot of reservations about the operations of the National Land Commission and how commissioners have been handling matters before them,” complained Odenda Lumumba, chairman of the Kenya Land Alliance.

“If you are saying you are recovering public land regardless of the development on it, this land would not be an exception.”

Yesterday, Wayong’o said Constitution Article 40(6) on the right to property does not extend to property found to have been unlawfully acquired.

“Therefore, if the commission makes a finding that that property was unlawfully acquired, it does not matter who has it. Protection does not extend there. So anybody who has acquired public property unlawfully does not have the protection of the Constitution to own,” he said.

A source familiar with the situation told the Star the commissioners had difficult time balancing requirements of the law and the political ramifications of any decision they made.

“They had to strike a balance and that is why they made such a decision,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

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According to the NLC report which the commission is yet to release to the public, fresh valuation will have to be carried out to determine the current value of the land.

Yesterday, the NLC was drafting forward letters for the parties involved and they are to be delivered to them with the report

The source said the commissioners who were holed up at their Bishop Annex offices also took into account the fact that the hotel took a Sh1.2 billion loan from KCB.

The Kenyan government has majority stake in KCB.

During the hearing, KCB lawyer Martin Muge pleaded with NLC not to revoke, the title saying any move will have ramifications for the interests of the bank.

Present during deliberations on Monday were NLC vice chairperson Abigael Mukolwe, commissioners Abdulkadir Khalif, Clement Lenachuru, Emma Njogu, Rose Musyoka and Samuel Tororei.

The 0.773ha plot L.R. No. 209/14372 opposite Wilson Airport on Langata Road was formerly the site of the KCAA central stores.

In May last year, the Weston Hotel was valued at Sh300 million, according to a report by Zenith Management Valuers Ltd.

KCAA says a scheme to grab its land was hatched in 1999.

Neither the Directorate of Civil Aviation nor the Transport ministry sought ownership papers, giving a field day to the grabbers

On June 29, 1999, then Commissioner of Lands Sammy Mwaita wrote to the Directorate of Civil Aviation, indicating he had received an application from a church group that wanted to build a church on the site.

On July 8, 1999, the Directorate of Civil Aviation objected and told Mwaita it had plans for the land, so it could not be allocated to third parties.

“This property had been set aside by the Directorate of Civil Aviation for the construction of its headquarters,” Wayong’o said, adding that its management had not discussed the purported allocation.

Undeterred, on July 19, 2001, the Commissioner of Lands wrote to the Transport PS, indicating receipt of an application, this time from Kikabi Homes Limited, which wanted to be allocated the land.

Then PS Francis Muthaura, in a letter dated August 22, 2001, stood his ground and told Mwaita the land belonged to the KCAA and was not available for allocation to anybody or any company.

Muthaura’s letter was addressed to his colleague in the Land and Settlements ministry.

Attempts to grab the land, according to Wayong’o, would become more aggressive when assets belonging to the Directorate of Civil Aviation were being vested in the new KCAA.

The KCAA had been established on October 24, 2002, through the Civil Aviation Act, 2002. It took over all assets previously held by the DCA through a vesting order of October 13, 2006.

“The transition between the DCA and the KCAA was not done well,” Wayong’o said.

However, in 2002, Commissioner of Lands Mwaita instructed the Directorate of Civil Aviation to move its stores from the land.

No reason was given and KCAA never surrendered its title, Wayong’o told the commission during one hearing.

“The relocation was to create room for the allotee,” Wayong’o said, adding he has never come across minutes of any KCAA board meeting that approved the transfer or surrender.

As a result, the KCAA has been forced to build its headquarters on land leased from the Kenya Airports Authority.

On September 5, 2002, KCAA established that the parcel had been allocated to two companies — Priority Limited and Monene Investment Limited.

It has, however, failed to obtain crucial documents such as the Part Development Plan, the survey plan and deed plan used for the issuance of the title deed.

Read: Cut off Ruto and reclaim Weston Hotel land, David Ndii tells Uhuru

Related: We will ‘name, shame’ grabbers of JKIA land

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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