A nominee for a cabinet post in Siaya County was forced to fight claims he had a hand in the infamous 2008 cemetery land scandal in Nairobi.
Joseph Warega, nominated by Governor Cornel Rasanga for Finance and Economic Planning post, dismissed any involvement in the scandal that reportedly ensnared Sh283 million from the then City Council of Nairobi.
Mr Warega who was in 2008 the Chief Accountant in the Ministry of Local Government under the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (then led by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi), insisted that he followed due process to release funds.
LAND DEAL LEGAL
The nominee added that he was acting under instructions from the former Local Government permanent secretary Sammy Kirui who gave him assurance that the land deal was legal and he should approve its payment.
“I am happy that I did not engage in any graft case, I released the funds to procure the land after strictly adhering to the law. If only I knew the transaction was fraudulent I would cancel it immediately,” said Mr Warega.
Mr Warega, currently the Director of Finance in the Siaya county government, was responding to an integrity question raised by Speaker George Okode who is also the chairman of the Vetting and Appointment Committee who questioned his integrity.
The Director of Finance maintained that he sought for all the required documents from the City Council of Nairobi (CCN) which was presented to him before releasing a cheque to purchase the land.
TURN INTO A SCANDAL
Mr Warega said that the CCN provided him with copies of sale agreement, legal opinion of the Attorney General (AG), valuation report, land search and title deed which gave him the confidence of approving the payment only for the transaction to turn into a scandal.
“I wrote the cheque a few months to the close of the 2007-2008 Financial Year to secure the money from returning to the National Treasury, only to approve the payment after receiving the valid land transaction documents. I never knew they were forged documents,” said Mr Warega.
The scandal arose from the decision by the then Council to look for alternative land for graves arguing the Lang’ata cemetery was getting full.
A meeting in 2005 by top officials had passed a resolution to buy 120 acres of land in Mavoko Township in today’s Machakos County.
A sale agreement was reached in November 2008 and a transfer done in January 2009.
But it later turned out its value had been exaggerated. It was worth Sh24 million but officials quoted Sh259 million, plus other transaction fees.