Kimunya faces seven counts of abuse of office and fraud

NAIROBI, KENYA: Former Cabinet Minister Amos Kimunya was Monday arraigned in a Nairobi court to answer abuse of office and land fraud charges over alleged irregular allocation of public land in Nyandarua County. ?

Former transport cabinet minister Amos Kimunya

Former transport cabinet minister Amos Kimunya

The former Lands minister arrived in court as early as 8am ready to take his plea, but was forced to wait until 11 am to be read the charges he is facing.

Mr Kimunya together with his co-accused Lillian Njenga, the former Director of Land Adjudication and Junghae Wainaina, the Chairman of the Board of Midlands Limited, the company alleged to have bought the land in question, appeared before acting Chief Magistrate Doreen Mulekyo of the Anti-Corruption Court accused of seven counts of abuse of office and fraud.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko alleges that Kimunya, when he was Minister for Lands and Housing and Njenga, on June 30, 2005, used their offices to improperly confer a benefit to Midlands Limited by allocating the company public land known as Nyandarua/Njabini/5852 measuring 25 acres worth Sh60 million contrary to Section 46 as read with Section 48(1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.

The former Kipipiri MP was also accused that as Lands minister, knowing that the Government was unaware of his private interest in Midlands, he failed to disclose that he was a director of the company and allowed the allocation of the land in question to the firm contrary to the law.

Mr Kimunya and Ms Njenga faced another count of fraudulent disposal of public property where it was alleged that on June 30, 2005 at Ardhi House, Nairobi the two fraudulently disposed off the said land to Midlands by issuing a letter of offer and title deed, while knowing that the same piece of land was being used as a farmers training centre, and therefore not available for alienation.

The former minister was further accused of breach of trust by a public servant contrary to section 127 of the penal code.

“On June 30,2005 being a person employed in the public service as a minister concerned with administration of public land, you committed a breach of trust by disposing off a public property an act which was prejudicial to the public,” Mr Kimunya was told in court.

Mr Kimunya and Ms Njenga faced another count of failing to protect public property. The court was told that on the said date at Ardhi House, the two failed to protect public property by issuing both a letter of offer and title deed to Midlands Limited, yet the land was not available for sale.

Junghae Wainana together with the company were charged with fraudulent acquisition of public property contrary to the law. He was accused that on February 6, 2006 at Ardhi House in Nairobi, he fraudulently acquired the said land registered in the name of Settlement Fund Trustee.

The three pleaded not guilty to all seven counts. In his submissions, Kimunya’s lawyer Mwaniki Gachoka pleaded with the court to have his client admitted to bail.

“My client has served this country as a cabinet minister for 10 years. Despite his status, he is entitled to fair treatment as he was not arrested on Friday but voluntarily drove himself to EACC offices for questioning. He has also voluntarily came to court we request the court to conduct a fair trial and release him on reasonable bond terms,” Gachoka argued.

However, Prosecutor Ms Lilian Obuo said the prosecution was not opposed to any bail terms granted by court as long as they reflected the gravity of the charges the accused are facing.

Mr Kimunya and his co-accused were ordered by the magistrate to deposit a cash bail of Sh1million or a bond of Sh2 million to secure their freedom. Hearing of the case is set for July 8 with a mention slated for March 31.

The former minister arraignment followed the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko’s authorisation of the charges against Kimunya, after an investigation and recommendation by the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission. The detectives picked up Mr Kimunya from a city hotel last Friday and took him to Integrity Building to record a statement.

By FRED MAKANA, The Standard