How Ruto, wife grabbed Kenya High School land
How Ruto, wife grabbed Kenya High School land
When Kenyans refer to United Democratic Allianced (UDA) presidential candidate, William Ruto as Arap Mashamba, what comes to mind is his recent land grabs and schemes.
For instance, grabbing IDP Adrian Muteshis’s 100-acre piece of land (for which he was found guilty and fined Kshs 5million), grabbing Joseph Murumbi’s 3000-acre farm, ADC Mutara Ranch in Laikipia, and the most infamous, grabbing the playground of Lang’ata Primary School to construct a parking area for his Weston Hotel – which also stands on land that belongs to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
However, long before all these, there was the illegal sale of land that belongs to Ngong Forest and Kenya High School to Kenya Pipeline.
As of now, the authorities are erroneously pursuing the Board of Management (BOM) of Kenya High School led by Chairman Lee Muthoga for selling a big chunk of the school’s land.
Kenya High’s alumni, comprising some of the most senior women leaders in this country, are shaking and speaking in hushed tones about this issue after it emerged that Ruto is involved.
How Kenya High School Lost its Land
This takes us back in time to 2001. Daniel arap Moi was President but on the tail end of his final term.
William Ruto, who had joined KANU’s Youth for KANU’92 (YK’92) almost ten years earlier and risen to be its treasurer, was at that time a first-time MP for Eldoret North and an assistant minister in the Office of the President.
Only 35 years old then, he was exceedingly ambitious, and money-hungry.
He had already conned Cyrus Jirongo of his 100 acres in Kajiado after presenting it as collateral for a bank loan (Ruto was working as a CEO of a company that Jirongo owned and it is this company that used its asset – the land - to guarantee the personal loan that Ruto had taken).
After refusing to pay the loan, Ruto succeeded in getting Jirongo’s land auctioned, which explains why Ruto and Jirongo do not see eye to eye.
Ruto obviously knew that Moi was retiring from politics in the coming year and therefore he had to make hay while the sun was shining.
He hatched a nefarious plot that would see him sell air to a government parastatal in one of the most audacious money heists of its time.
The idea was simple: Ruto had learned that the Kenya Pipeline Company had a significant amount of cash in its accounts.
He then got to work coming up with a scheme on how to access that money.
Enter Ngong Forest: Working with people at KPC, it was decided that the parastatal needed a training institute (never mind that it already had one at Morendat, Naivasha).
And where would that institute be built? Yes, on Ngong Forest Land.
Fortunately, all the vital pieces were in place: The Minister for Environment, which ministry owned Ngong Forest, was John K. Sambu. He would be useful in writing a letter instructing the Commissioner of Lands, a greedy but pliant Kikuyu by the name of Wilson Gachanja, who was used by the clique around President to process the sale of government land.
Among the properties Gachanja assisted the Moi cartel to sell was land belonging to the Kenya School of Law in Langata and numerous road reserves and other public properties.
He was succeeded by Sammy Komen Mwaita, a rabid land thief who is currently face charges relating to the grabbing of land meant for a roundabout in Nakuru and allocating it to his brother, among other cases.
In the case of “KPC land” involving Ruto, Gachanja had without adequate justification, alienated a piece of Ngong Forest for residential development and issued a freehold title Grant LR.No.70244, ignoring that the area was a reserved forest.
As normally happens, a freehold title is then subdivided and sold and it is clear that this subdivision and sale was anticipated when the forest was excised.
Another vital piece was that KPC’s Managing Director was one Linus Cheruiyot and, even better, the Company Secretary was Mary Kiptui.
The MD’s Personal Assistant was E. Komen, who would later sign the letter requesting for valuations on Ngong Forest and Kenya High pieces.
The land in question was over fifty-two hectares, too much for one individual or company to own in Ngong Forest without raising eyebrows.
To solve this problem, Ruto and his associates, using Lawyer Francis Tuiyott created 13 fictitious companies to own a total of 33 parcels of land created out of the 52 acres hived off from the Ngong Forest.
The names of the 13 companies are:
1. Redate Investments Ltd
2. Linto Ltd
3. Roseko Investment Ltd
4. Tanabell Enterprises Ltd
5. Makori Investment
6. Tairo Investment Ltd
7. Velvet Safaris Ltd
8. Ramada Ltd
9. Berke Ltd
10. Priority Ltd
11. Somog Ltd
12. Celtic Multisystem Ltd
13. Grey Soil Ltd.
The 33 plots of land granted to the 13 fake companies were allegedly created out of a sanctuary with authority from the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, William Mayaka.
Fake green cards were also created to enable the transfer of the land.
For those not familiar with the terminology, a green card is a document that holds the original records of all transactions relating to a piece of land.
At the time, the Commissioner of Lands was Sammy Mwaita from Baringo.
The land that was allegedly sold included not just a portion of Ngong Forest, but also a portion of land belonging to Kenya High School.
However, no land was actually sold excepting for legal purposes only, but Kenya Pipeline ended up losing Sh272 million, out of which William Ruto received Sh96 million (That is equivalent to Kshs 2 billion today).
However, in effect, the titles for some of the properties indicate that they are hived off Kenya High School land as well as Ngong Forest.
How Ruto, wife Rachel Chebet sold fake land
Five out of the 13 companies involved belonged to Ruto through his wife and other proxies.
At the time, Rachel Ruto was called Rael Chebet Kimeto.
Ruto was also not known as Samoei, a name he picked later to associate himself politically with the legendary Kalenjin leader.
He was originally known as William Kipchirchir Ruto.
There is evidence of Ruto being involved in the deal. His signature, together with his wife’s, is on the agreement made on 15th of August, 2001 between Berke Commercial Agencies Ltd and Kenya Pipeline Company.
Ruto and Rael were the directors of Berke Commercial Agencies Ltd, which is one of the 13 fictitious companies they set up to execute the money heist.
This case is full of interesting twists. Do you remember Justice Francis Tuiyott, the Court of Appeal judge who participated in bringing down the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) at the High Court?
Well, Francis Tuiyott is the lawyer who did conveyancing. He is the one who registered the 13 companies, and he is also the one who offered fake title deeds for the 33 parcels of land (51.52 hectares) to KPC.
The scandal came to light during investigation into insurance fraud by AMACO, an insurance company owned by William Ruto.
When investigating a crime, it is always wise to follow the money. And the trail always leads back to the mastermind, in this case William Ruto.
The nickname “Arap Mashamba” is well-deserved.
Ruto charged in the KPC saga and how a witness disappeared
In October 2012, William Ruto was fired as minister over this case and was subsequently charged in court together with Sammy Mwaita and Joshua Kulei, another insider in the Moi regime.
The charge sheet stated that Ruto had received Ksh. 96 million.
However, out of this amount, the prosecution could not prove that Ruto had received Kshs. 45 million.
As for the rest of the money, Ksh 51 million, the trail went cold because a key witness, former KPC Finance Manager, Hellen Njue, disappeared mysteriously and could not appear to state how the money had been transferred from the parastatal.
Ruto was therefore acquitted for lack of witnesses, the same way he was released from ICC when witnesses disappeared.
As matters stand, the biggest loser in this case is Kenya High School, which might lose some of its laboratories, dormitories, playing field and a store although the rest of the school will remain untouched.