Long trail of Jirongo’s millions leads EACC to Jubilee bigwigs
Outspoken Jubilee vice-chairperson David Murathe and vocal trade unionist Francis Atwoli, were yesterday on the spot over links to a Sh250 million dubious land deal.
The deal was allegedly orchestrated by politician Cyrus Jirongo and involves officials at the Nairobi county government.
Also dragged into the scandal that has put the duo on the radar of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), is former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende, former Vihiga Senator George Khaniri and South Sudan politician and diplomat Albino Aboug.
All of them were allegedly caught up in a trail of money that Jirongo disbursed after being paid. The anti-graft agency now believes the money was irregularly paid to Jirongo as compensation by City Hall for a public land purchase.
The subject land, according to EACC, measures 4.2 acres and belongs to A.E. F Reuben Primary School in Mukuru kwa Reuben, Nairobi, a dispensary, police station and a vocational centre.
Some of the parties were yesterday summoned to appear at Integrity Centre, the EACC headquarters, to explain the purpose of the payments made in 2020.
At that time, Murathe and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss were part of a cabal of leaders actively involved in then-President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession politics.
Recipients of the money would occasionally meet at Atwoli’s Ildamat residence in Kajiado, or at the Jubilee vice-chairman’s home at Garden Estate in Nairobi, which had been christened “Gazebo”.
EACC detectives want Atwoli to explain why he received Sh60 million from Jirongo while Murathe is to explain why he got Sh25 million, Marende (Sh3 million), Khaniri (Sh5 million) and Aboug, who is a member of the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly, Sh38 million.
Jirongo’s account received Sh20.6 million suspected to be proceeds of crime. “Investigations are underway. We have summoned the parties ... but we cannot divulge the details as per now,” said EACC acting chief executive Abdi Mohamud.
Yesterday, Atwoli and Murathe confirmed receiving money from Jirongo, but denied being part of the land transaction, saying he was only paying back their debts.
Marende said he received payments from Abuog as part of professional fees in a transaction, having helped the foreigner buy a separate piece of land at Upper Hill, Nairobi, at a cost of Sh1 billion in 2016.
Murathe, who appeared before the investigators yesterday afternoon, told ‘People Daily’ that Sh25 million was part of the money owed to him by Jirongo. He said it was not his business to care where his debtor got the money from.
“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 is clear the summons was intended to scandalize and paint our client in a bad light,” Murathe said through his lawyer Wagara Koyyoko and Company.
The trade unionist, through his personal assistant, Adams Barasa, acknowledged receiving the cash and summons from EACC but said the money was part of a Sh110 million debt Jirongo owed him.
Ksh100m friendly loan
“Atwoli lent Jirongo Sh100 million, which he was supposed to pay with an interest of Sh10 million. But he refused and Atwoli went to court, and Jirongo was in 2017 ordered to pay up. He approached the creditor and told him that he was selling a piece of land and, once the deal was done, he would pay. When he eventually sold the land, he paid Sh61 million as part of the loan, and promised to pay the balance, which he is yet to clear,” Basara said.
Contacted, Marende confirmed receiving Sh3 million but said it was paid to him by Aboug, who had received payments from Jirongo. According to Marende, who acknowledged being aware of the ongoing investigations by EACC, he offered professional services to Aboug in 2016.
Aboug, he said, wanted to buy a piece of land, and he(Marende) identified one at Upper Hill, near Milimani Courts, which the foreigner bought at Sh1 billion from KDCI. “He owed me professional fees for services rendered. I even sent him a note to that effect in 2016. He also had a land deal with Jirongo whereby he paid a stump duty that he was not required to pay, and so Jirongo was to reimburse it. So when Jirongo sealed his deal in 2020, which I was not a party to, he paid Aboug who then made a partial payment to me,” Marende said.
At the heart of the investigations are claims of conspiracy to defraud the County Government of Nairobi Sh250 million through alleged irregular out-of-court settlement to Ms Kuza Farms and Allied Ltd, which is owned by Jirongo, for land L.R No, 209/11887 belonging to the school.
The school has 3084 pupils. Its title deed is held by the Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC) as collateral for a Sh1.65 billion loan. Sources at EACC say the loan was borrowed from Post Bank by Jirongo in 1993. After he failed to pay, the Deposit Protection Fund, now KDIC, held the title.
Preliminary investigations have established that the parcel of land L.R No. 209/11887 initially belonged to the Catholic Church, which through Mukuru Promotion Centre established A.E.F Reuben Primary School in 1986.
In 1998, the Mukuru Promotion Centre surrendered the school to Nairobi City Council and the facility became fully registered with the Ministry of Education.
Further, investigations have revealed that in 1989, a former military general applied and was allocated the same parcel of land, and in 1990 sold it to M/S Kuza Farms and Al led Ltd, owned by Jirongo.
The company — where Jirongo and his wives Christine Jirongo, Ann Kanini Jirongo and Ann Lanoi Jirongo are directors — processed and obtained a title deed for LR No. 209/11887. Investigations established that the money was paid without Jirongo fulfilling the set-out conditions, particularly the surrender of the title deed which was still being held by KDIC as collateral. Also interestingly KDIC, despite being the custodian of the title deed, was not part of the suit.