How the Heck Did Ruto Appoint this Maniac to be a CAS for the Lands Ministry?

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I found this from Kenyan Media and couldn’t believe it. Below is a piece by famed Human Rights Activist Boniface Mwangi:

Majority of Kenya’s crooked millionaires claim to have raised themselves up by the bootstraps, from poverty and squalor and into their riches, by selling all manner of merchandise – from chickens to charcoal. What they jealously guard are the laws they have bent and broken, and the number of victims they have killed or hurt, on their way to making their millions.

One of Kenya’s poster boys in this category is Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri, a controversial politician recently appointed as Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Lands. He claims that he has clawed his way out of poverty by selling charcoal, occasionally driving a tractor, or a matatu, and operating a string of businesses. However, controversy shadows him everywhere he goes, as he walks in and out of courts as an accused person, or defendant, wearing scandals like his Sunday best suit

The 70-year-old, who has never been employed all his life, is famous for his sharp, acidic tongue of a matatu driver, quick temper, and fast fists to match. Now that he has been picked as a Chief Administrative Secretary in the lucrative Lands, Public Works, Housing, and Urban Development docket, his tenure will be quite interesting. You see, Ngunjiri’s love affair with land and associated scandals precedes his entry into politics. He is a creature of a land scam where his prolific deal-making all start.

One Sunday, in the 1990s, a desperate Ngunjiri jumped into the middle of the road at Kiamunyi, in Nakuru, forcing President Daniel Arap Moi’s motorcade to screech to an abrupt stop.

Ngunjiri’s suicidal tactic was meant to attract the attention of the head of state, who was heading to Nakuru from his Kabarak home. Luck was on his side because the President intervened just as he was about to be whisked away by the angry presidential escort. And when he had the President’s ear, he narrated how he was about to be evicted from a land he had bought by some rich tycoons. After showing the President his ”ownership” documents, Ngunjiri secured the controversial land. His land was saved and a land baron was born, for Ngunjiri had learnt a vital trick that would later earn him millions.

His once-in-a-lifetime encounter with the President propelled him to Kanu and elective politics. However, the electorate in Subukia were not convinced about Ngunjiri’s suitability as their MP and it would take 15 years before they would eventually vote him to parliament. Ngunjiri literally punched his way to parliament and infamy, as he is famously known for challenging his opponents to physical duels, from his debut when he staged a coup in the Nakuru Kanu branch and replaced the Chairman, Wilson Leitich, in 2000. Leitich made headlines on June 12, 1990 when he called for the cutting off of fingers of anybody who flashed the two-finger salute favoured by multiparty advocates.

But even as he engaged rivals in physical fights, Ngunjiri has always had an eye for lucrative land deals.

Sometime in 2005, when the politician learned that members of Bidii Farmers Self Help Group were planning to buy a piece of land in Ngorika, Nyandarua District, from Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), he offered to assist them. Ngunjiri allowed the members to deposit their money, totaling Sh460,000, into his account so that it could earn interest and enable them to buy the land. It is against this background that the group directed Wetangula and Company Advocates to deposit the money in Ngunjiri’s account.

The deal was that the money would be allowed to incubate until it had grown to Sh624,000 but this was never to be.

When the members needed their money, Ngunjiri failed to honour the agreement and only released Sh200,000 to AFC. The deal collapsed and the farmers lost the land, and Sh600,000 in the bargain. In April 2007, AFC announced that the land was still available but the members now had to pay Sh1.8 million and clear the balance in three months. The farmers could not raise the money.

When asked about the accusations, Ngunjiri feigned ignorance, saying that he could not be expected to remember transactions alleged to have been done a decade ago and challenged the peasants to sue him instead of dragging his name in the scandal.

“It would be difficult to remember things that took place 10 years ago. These allegations are baseless,” protested the MP then.


But there are even more recent damning allegations against the abrasive politician. On 15 July 2021, 67-year-old environmental activist, Joannah Stutchbury, was killed about 200 metres from her home in Kiambu. Stuchbury had been waging a campaign against the grabbing of the Kiambu Forest.

She incensed the grabbers when she protested the destruction of the biodiversity in Kiambu Forest Reserve. By fighting for the forest, she committed a cardinal crime for which she had to die. A portion of the land had been grabbed some time back by well-connected politicians who were keen to mint billions.

As the probe got underway, it emerged that Ngunjiri, his wife, and his former Limuru counterpart, Kuria Kanyingi, were among those who had illegally grabbed land in Kiambu Forest, according to documents tabled in the Senate. Environment Cabinet Secretary, Keriako Tobiko, tabled documents before the Security Committee of the Senate indicating that Ngunjiri owns 14.5 hectares (36.25 acres) of the prime forest land, while Agropack Limited, where he and his wife, Ruth Muthoni, and Samuel Ndegwa, owned an additional 6.79 hectares (16.9 acres) of the forest.

This adds up to 53.25 acres, in an area where one acre of land is sold for at least Sh35 million, bringing the total estimated cost to a minimum of Sh1.8 billion. Kanyingi, on the other hand, owns 24 hectares which are currently divided into two, and partially developed, while Kiambaa (Nyakinyua) Women Group also owns 39.82 hectares of the forest land. Pelican Engineering Company, whose director is Mr Maina Kamau, has 29.68 hectares of land, which it has already developed by building residential houses called Riverview estate, while Wibeo Investments, whose director is Mr Bedan Mbugua, owns 25 hectares.

After Tobiko dropped the bombshell in the Senate in November 2021, Ngunjiri denied playing any role in the murder and threatened to sue his accuser for slander Ngunjiri wondered why Tobiko had singled him out from the many people, and companies, that own land in the controversial area around Kiambu Forest. “I have never plotted to harm anyone, leave alone kill. It was not fair for Tobiko to list me among the suspected killers without concrete evidence, simply because we disagree politically,” he said.

The former MP is embroiled in yet another convoluted land saga where an elderly Ruai widow, named Pauline Ngomi Mwangangi, wants him arrested for defying a court order to surrender to her a Sh15 million plot, LR. 209/8313 at Dunga Close, Industrial Area, Nairobi. Ngunjiri claimed that his company purchased the property from the administrators of Esther Njoki Peter Muigai Kenyatta. Njoki was the fifth wife of Peter Muigai, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s eldest son who died mysteriously on October 28, 1979, aged 59, barely a year after his father’s death.

Nearly a year later, on the night of October 16, 1980, Njoki was found murdered at the gate to her farm and the killers have never been arrested. Another of Muigai’s widows, Charity Gathoni Muigai, died in November 2017.

On June 2, 2020, Ngunjiri filed a case at the Milimani Environment and Land Court seeking a permanent injunction restraining Ngomi and her servants, employees, or agents from entering or trespassing on the premises in any way.

Ngunjiri swore that his company, Pale Kenya Limited, purchased the property from the administrators of Esther Njoki Peter Muigai Kenyatta and the suit property was duly conveyed to him.

However, Ngomi opposed the application in an affidavit sworn on July 20, 2020. She swore that she was the owner of the property because she was the administrator of the estate of her late husband, John Mwangangi, who had bought the property from Esther Njoki Peter Muigai Kenyatta on September 27, 1975 for Sh79,000.

According to Ngomi, by the time Esther Muigai was murdered in 1980, she had not transferred the plot to them. Tragedy struck Ngomi in December 2003 when her husband, Mwangangi, was attacked by unknown assailants and subsequently died, marking the beginning of her land troubles. After Mwangangi’s death, the administrators of Esther’s estate filed a case in Nairobi, HCCC No 1385 of 2005, seeking her eviction. The said suit was subsequently dismissed. The Mwangangi’s, the Court heard, had taken possession of the property in 1975 and developed rental shops, offices, and a garage

In his ruling delivered on October 30, 2020, Justice Bernard Eboso dismissed Ngunjiri’s application seeking to evict Ngomi and directed that the widow continue having possession of the property without disposing of it, or developing it further.

Dissatisfied by the ruling, Ngunjiri filed an application demanding Justice Eboso recuse himself from the case but before the court had rendered its verdict on this application, Ngomi was violently evicted. Ngunjiri forcibly evicted Ngomi and coerced her tenants to be paying rent directly to him.

Sickly Elder

A year earlier, in Nakuru, Ngunjiri’s scheme to disinherit a sickly senior citizen, Mansukhahal Jamnadas Morjaria, almost succeeded after he and a fictitious company secretly filed a case, and even secured eviction orders.

However, Justice J N Mutungi saw through this scheme on February 3, 2022 and rendered a stinging verdict, harshly calling out Narendra Chadulal Nagra, Ngunjiri, and John Muthee Ngunjiri, trading as Tango Auctioneers, together with the Chief Land Registrar.

“It is not lost to the court that in 2019, there was a concerted effort by Nagra, Ngunjiri, and the auctioneer (1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants) to have the plaintiff’s agents evicted from the suit premises on allegations that they had accrued rent arrears.”

The judge continued, “I dare state that the 1st defendant is aware that the plaintiff was elderly and sickly and could possibly not fight back and hence the choreographed attempt to wrestle the property from him using, what was most probably, fraudulent documents.”The property had been transferred to Jamnadas Nathoobhai on 30th May 1955. It was transferred to Standard Bank Ltd, Girdharlal Jamnadas Morjaria and Mansukhlal Jamnadas Morjaria, following the patriarch’s (Nathoobhai) death on April 8, 1974.

Eventually, the property was registered in Morjaria’s name on February 22, 2011 vide succession cause no. 2520 of 2009. He was issued with a lease on April 11, 2012.

The court was satisfied that the plaintiff (Morjaria) was the legally and validly registered proprietor of the suit property.

“It is unclear under what circumstance Narendra Chandulal Nagda (the 1st defendant) came to be registered as the owner of the suit property, or who he is as he never appeared to defend the suit.”

It was the court’s opinion that the title issued to the shadowy character on May 19, 2016 was suspect. Something fishy had happened at the Lands office because the records could not be traced and two leases had been issued for the same property.

“The title issued to the 1st defendant cannot have been a genuine title and may be the reason why the records at the Lands office could not be traced.” This mode of operation, where records were made to disappear and double title deeds issued for controversial parcels of land where Ngunjiri has an interest, has been replicated in yet another case in Nakuru.

Here, in a cleverly scripted move, Ngunjiri who was an MP at the time, carved out 13 parcels of land from Solai Ndungiri block 9/1 in 2018. Investigations by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations found that Ngunjiri had conspired with some Ministry of Lands officials to prepare and issue title deeds for the 13 parcels of land, which originally belonged to Njuguna Mwaura Mbogo but, after his death, was transferred to his son, Francis Kamau Njuguna.

Among the alleged squatters that Ngunjiri illegally allocated Njuguna’s land were his wife, Ruth Muthoni, who was given two pieces of land, as well as his brother and a daughter, Harriet Wanjiru. On December 2 last year, Joseph Kimanthi, Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions in charge of Rift Valley, recommended the prosecution of Ngunjiri’s wife, Ruth Muthoni, daughter, Harriet, as well as five other close friends, for the fraud. Almost six months later, the politician’s wife and daughter, as well as their accomplices, have never been prosecuted although their title deeds to Mbogo’s land have been canceled.

Written by Boniface Mwangi.

Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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