Land Scam: Court of Appeal rules against former City hall official

by Lawyer Wanz

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an application by former City Council legal secretary Mary Ng’ethe to be freed on bail. Mary Ng’ethe had appealed while pursuing an appeal for her jailing over the loss of Sh283 million in a cemetery land scandal.

Ms Ngethe was sentenced to a total of four years in jail after she was found guilty of abuse of office and giving a misleading report purporting that the defunct city council had agreed to buy the controversial 120-acre cemetery land in Mavoko town.

She moved to the Court of Appeal arguing that she is a single mother, who was taking care of a sick child. She also said she suffers occasional vertigo and blood pressure. But the judges said there was no exceptional circumstances for her to be granted back her freedom, pending appeal.

“The applicant has put forward primarily the issue of her son who says has special medical needs. It is clear to us that the son is in a special school and there is no evidence that he has been neglected or urgently requires parental care,” said justices Wanjiru Karanja, Mohamed Warsame and Gatembu Kairu.

The judges said there is no evidence that the Lang’ata Prison has failed to manage her condition.

“Consequently we find that there are no exceptional or unusual circumstances to warrant the granting of orders for bail pending appeal,” the Judges said.

Ms Ngethe were found guilty together with former Nairobi town clerk John Gakuo as well as former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui over the irregular payment of Sh283 million for a cemetery land.

It is alleged that the 120-acre land in Mavoko was purchased for Sh283 million, when it was worth Sh24 million and did not have a title deed. The land had been earmarked to replace the Langata Cemetery, which is full. Also convicted was a former City Hall official Alexander Musee. Mr Gakuo died in prison while Mr Kirui’s sentence was quashed last year.

While convicting them, the court said the former officials acted passively and allowed embezzlement of public funds. They also used a false valuation report to award the tender. Ms Ngethe was sentenced to three years in jail and pay a fine of Sh52 million, failure to which she will serve an additional one year in jail.

The defunct city council officials approved the purchase of the land in March 2005 for use as a cemetery as the existing graveyard at Lang’ata had no space.

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