Suspended Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu on Monday hit out at the Jubilee administration as she defended Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka over allegations that he grabbed National Youth Service (NYS) land in Yatta, Machakos County.
The move by Mrs Ngilu, one of the powerful ministers in the Jubilee administration, is likely to raise eyebrows considering that she defended Cord leader Raila Odinga’s co-principal at a time when the NYS is at the centre of a political storm over allegations of corruption.
Suspended Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu addressing her supporters outside the Milimani Law Courts on July 13, 2015 in Nairobi after mention of a case in which she is charged with blocking detectives from investigating the Karen land scandal. She challenged Jubilee leaders to resign if they are unable to tackle corruption. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Ms Ngilu, who is on suspension from the Cabinet to pave way for investigations into corruption allegations against her, declared that the land in question was owned by the Kamba community and cannot be taken away from them. She also said that Mr Musyoka never headed the NYS nor the parent Ministry, and “cannot therefore grab the land in question.”
Mrs Ngilu claimed that the allegations against Mr Musyoka were an indication that the Jubilee administration was not committed to fighting corruption.
“This only proves how non-committal the government is in addressing graft and that it was protecting powerful figures who are accused of corruption. Na kama wameshindwa kazi waende nyumbani (and if they are no longer capable of carrying out the job they should go home),” she said amid cheers from the crowds outside the Milimani Law Courts where she had earlier appeared for the mention of a case against her.
Mrs Ngilu is accused of obstructing investigations into the Sh8 billion Karen land scandal. The investigations were being carried out by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), which is itself embroiled in a bitter dispute that led MPs to recommend the sacking of its CEO and his deputy last week.
In answer to Mrs Ngilu, four MPs from the Jubilee Coalition said the suspended CS for Lands, Housing and Urban Planning had no mandate to speak because she was not in office. They said the claims she made were her personal opinion.
Led by TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja, Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji, Kipipiri MP Samuel Gichigi and his Dagoretti South counterpart, Mr Dennis Waweru, said the suspended CS had no right to speak about matters touching on public land as she was battling corruption allegations in court.
“There is an acting Lands minister who should speak about this matter. She did not go home with the ministry’s property,” Mr Sakaja told journalists at Parliament Buildings.
He also challenged former Vice-President Musyoka to come out and explain how he acquired the land.
“We demand immediate revocation of the title and the land to be taken back to the government,” said Mr Sakaja.
And Mr Gethenji said: “The Yatta field unit land which belongs to NYS was excised irregularly and Mr Musyoka is a beneficiary. We want to call on the Lands committee to begin investigations and present a report to the National Assembly. The title must be revoked immediately.”
Mr Waweru also asked the acting Lands CS, Dr Fred Matiang’i, to act swiftly and repossess the land.
“We have seen many squatters in Yatta and we have been wondering why but it is clear now that some people grabbed their land. We want to ask the Ministry of Lands to move with speed and revoke the titles and should be done in 14 days. There is also land in Ramogi Institute and a piece of land in Bondo belonging to KAA,” said Mr Waweru.
The legislators also distanced themselves from the EACC Amendment Bill passed by the House last week that sought to kick out the commission’s CEO and his deputy.
“We have heard Raila Odinga say that Jubilee has orchestrated this matter when it is clear that the amendment was by the deputy whip of Cord coalition. It was sponsored by the Opposition and they should tell us why they sponsored it,” said Mr Sakaja.
And Mr Gichigi said: “Cord ganged up with corrupt cartels and brought an amendment to remove the secretariat. The amendment is illegal and any layman can just go to court and it would be scrapped.”
When Mrs Ngilu appeared in court two weeks ago to face charges of obstructing investigations into the Karen land, Mr Musyoka was among the politicians who attended the proceedings “in a show of solidarity”.
Addressing supporters outside the court at the time, he described her prosecution as “political”.
“As a lawyer I was ready to defend my sister as I know these accusations against her are illegitimate. They (Jubilee) forget so fast, but we are ready to declared our support for Ngilu and will stand by her until she is acquitted of these false accusations,” the former VP said. Also in court that day were Nairobi senator Mike Sonko and Imenti South MP Gideon Mwiti.