The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has lost Sh293 million in a shady land deal carried out 24 years ago by reclusive city billionaire Mike Maina, lawyer Chege Kirundi and government officials.
In a protracted court battle that started in 2004, Mr Kirundi and Mr Maina spilt the beans on a wide-ranging conspiracy that led to excision of 45.5 acres of public land from Karura Forest to their private company that sold back the land to the government.
The land, though in a government forest, was allocated to Kitusuru Limited, a company associated with Mr Kirundi and Mr Maina, before being sold to NSSF at Sh292.5 million in 1996.
Shortly after receiving the money, the company was dissolved by its directors.
Other players mentioned in the loss of the colossal sum of the pensioners’ fund is Mr Hosea Kiplagat, a nephew of retired President Daniel Moi and a powerful operative during the Kanu era.
Mr Kiplagat was a long-serving chairman of Co-operative Bank and an executive officer of the Baringo Kanu branch.
The NSSF board of trustees started efforts to recover the money upon realising it could not take possession of the land as it had been gazetted as part of a forest. That was when a new regime came into power; in 2003.
The evidence tabled before Thika Environment and Lands Court Judge Lucy Gacheru indicated the shady deal started in 1993 with the city billionaire and Mr Kirundi helping Mr Kiplagat get a piece of (public) land.
Mr Maina testified that the deal was like any other and that the allottees were powerful people in President Moi’s regime.
In her ruling, Justice Gacheru found that though land ownership documents held by Kitusuru Ltd looked proper and were issued by the relevant government officials, proper process and procedure were never followed to degazette the suit property.
“The court finds that this irregularity was occasioned by the actions of the government officials. These government officers who gave authority of excision of the suit land were from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Commissioner of Lands who gave an allotment letter without ascertaining that the said land had been degazetted,” stated Justice Gacheru in the ruling made on November 22, 2019 obtained last week.