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Ruaraka land was acquired illegally, Amina says

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has added a twist to the acquisition of the Sh3.3 billion Ruaraka land by the government, saying the law was not followed.

Ms Mohamed, who appeared before the Senate Committee on County Public Accounts and Investments, said the area Ruaraka High and Drive-in schools stand is a public surrender land.

“If anything is brought to my desk, I will determine if we are getting value for money. At the very least, I will budget for it before carrying out any transaction. Things should have been done differently,” the minister said on Tuesday.

The government has already paid Sh1.5 billion for the land, whose size is also debatable.

Ms Mohamed said it is 13.5 acres while the National Land Commission insists on 13.7.

She told the committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang that the commission initiated the process of acquisition in 2017, effectively shifting blame from her ministry.

SH1.5 BILLION

Sh1.5 billion was wired to Whispering Palms Ltd on January 30 against the recommendation of a task force formed by the ministry.

The February 2 report recommended that the firm should not be compensated as the land was public. The company is owned by Mr Francis Mburu.

“The ministry has provided this committee with the report from our team because we believe it is true. The facts and recommendations are there,” Ms Mohamed said.

The minister added that the recommendation by the five-member panel should have been implemented, an apparent indictment of her predecessor Fred Matiang’i, now Interior CS.

According to the task force, chaired by Nairobi Regional Education Coordinator John Ololtuaa, the land was surrendered for public use in accordance with the law.

Lands CS Faridah Karoney and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko have also faced the Senate committee over the issue.

PIBLIC UTILITY

“Having been a surrendered portion for public utility, the panel’s view is that the claimant has no basis for compensation,” part of the report reads.

The report advised the Education CS and NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri to facilitate the processing of title deeds for the schools. It said doing so would cushion schools against grabbing.

The task force also urged Mr Paul Omondi, the official receiver and liquidator, to release the schools’ land documents.

Despite this, Ms Mohamed told the lawmakers that the ministry was yet to receive the title deeds.

The team was constituted after Dr Swazuri wrote to Dr Matiang’i on Aug 29, 2016, informing him of complaints by Afrison Export and Import Ltd and Huelands Ltd.

On March 17, Dr Matiang’i authorised the acquisition.

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