By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief, Nairobi – August 14, 2020
CORRUPTION in Kenya is a multi-billion industry that attracts many in government service and private sector. Currently the country gripped by billions of shillings worth of scandals around rampant looting of Coronavirus cash, which is intended to save lives.
The scandals are not new in the Ministry of Health or for corruptocratic Kenya at a time of national catastrophe’. Many young and old tenderpreneurs are making hay while the sun shines and praying COVID-19 continues escalating for the rest of the year and far beyond.
Many Kenyans have shared the view that Coronavirus is not real because nobody they know has been affected or died. That is the same attitude many Kenyans have on matters corruption. They don’t see people they know are corrupt being jailed. Corruption cases take too long and many are thrown out for lack of evidence – usually destroyed when the corrupt compromise investigators and prosecutors or judicial officers.
I would like to disabuse such mentality by ignorant people who do not seem to understand that punishment for corruption does not always come by way of jail sentences. Corruption is a crime against humanity that is more often than not punished by the Devine Justice – if not on the direct culprits, down to their children and generations. Many corrupt individuals die after years of excruciating and unbearable tormenting killer diseases – that deplete most of their stolen fortune.
History has chronicled severe punishment for corruption meted out through the ages including the fall of corrupt empires. No one escapes punishment for corruption. Governments overthrown all over the world owe their removal to Corruption.
In this opening article I begin with four public examples in Kenya showing that CORRUPTION does NOT PAY. Many others will follow.
At the prime of their age Samuel Gichuru and Chris Okemo appeared as successful as what any man would like to be in government and public life. Gichuru was the envy of many of his contemporaries in the corporate world. Beautiful homes, flashing cars and earthly beauties were always at beck and call as a globe-trotter.
Okemo was a rising political star from western Kenya with enviable post of finance and energy cabinet portfolios. Finance ministers in many democracies end up as Prime Ministers and Presidents. Above all they were basking in cash albeit laced with Corruption.
The former Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) Samuel Gichuru, at his pinnacle of LOOTING KPLC accumulated so much wealth he could get any woman he wanted – single or married. He proved that when he grabbed the wife of a former Permanent Secretary Richard Ndubai – a woman Ndubai had introduced to Gichuru to employ at KPLC.
When Ndubai filed for divorce the flamboyant billionaire Gichuru paid him a cool Ksh 20 million. When I got wind of the sum paid, I sent an email to Bilha Wanjiku asking her to confirm or deny the transaction. Her response was arrogantly simple, “Yes Samuel paid 20 million for me, am I not worth it?” I left the matter at that.
Ndubai invested the money in horticulture farming in Kirinyaga but Devine Justice drought had a better idea and the entire crop perished. Little did the Nairobi telephone farmer know the tree of sin bears no edible fruits. Gichuru had spoilt Bilha with a quick succession of promotions, car gifts, including a Pajero when he declared her KPLC Employee of the Year, company houses, and foreign air travel spiced with cruise holidays.
Over a decade today, Gichuru and Okemo have been fighting extradition charges before a Court in Jersey were they were hiding the stolen Public Funds. Locally Gichuru was successfully bribing courts to block any efforts to expose his multi-billion-shilling corruption. The money stolen by Gichuru could have electrified millions of homes in Kenya.
He blocked admission and implementation of a voluminous report detailing his KPLC plunder, which architect George Nyanja probe team had been commissioned to investigate. When I published extracts of the report in Kenya Confidential, he deployed a brother-in-law to use City Askaris and police to impound copies of the publication that were transported 100 kms away to be dumped into the fast-flowing Tana River. The brother-in-law was bribing Media House journalists not to expose any of Gichuru ills.
In 2003 during President Mwai Kibaki era, then Energy Minister Ochilo Ayako appointed a committee headed by former Limuru Member of Parliament Nyanja to investigate suspected malpractices in the energy sector. The recommendations of the report were never implemented.
The committee found that the huge electricity bills consumers had to pay were due to activities of a cartel of powerful people both inside and outside the energy sector. The cartels are still active today and power never gets cheaper despite high capacity in cheap generation.
During Gichuru tenure, the cartel conspired to drain water out of one of the main dams, create a deficiency in hydro-power and then import diesel generators to produce electricity as Independent Power Producing Company.
At the time of the probe, Gichuru had amassed a whopping Ksh700 million in his account in the Tiny Cayman Island in the Caribbean. He had, earlier on, formed an offshore Independent Power Producing Company in the Island to milk power consumers in Kenya. His many proxy locally registered companies were supplying goods and services to KPLC.
At the epitome of his looting, Gichuru threw a party for who was who in Nairobi business community to declare he was a “dollar millionaire” that time the dollar was exchanging at Ksh 70, meaning he was worth in excess of Ksh 70 millions of public plundered loot – well above the run of the mill Kenya shillings millionaires.
Today Gichuru is literally rotting on a wheel chair as the sins of corruption torment him and his health deteriorates. His co-accused and former Finance Minister was at one point was appointed to a public job that was rescinded after public outcry. His health is also failing him.
As much as Gichuru cannot access the money he had siphoned to the “save haven” of Jersey, he has also lost huge tracts of ranches in South Africa. He has been robbed of two ranches by the in-laws of the beauty he grabbed from Ndubai. He can’t fly to South Africa with his travel documents in court.
Gichuru’s wife Salome obtained orders, during divorce proceedings, giving Gichuru a seven-day ultimatum to return $10 million (Ksh1 billion) held in an account in Jersey. Other orders issued effectively blocked Gichuru from dealing in any way with his multi-billion estate pending the hearing and determination of the dispute.
The estate comprised, among others, 71 prime properties in Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa, shares in 23 local and foreign companies including Kenya Power and KenGen bought with the money he stole form the parastatals, Chaka Place gifted to his lover, Lotus Apartments and unspecified amounts of money in most of the local and foreign banks operating in Kenya.
Gichuru at Kenya Power was such a power that no cabinet minister would have kept him waiting for an appointment arranged or impromptu. That was never the case after the Jersey case and when Kibaki fired him.
One evening in 2005 during the Constitution Referendum campaign he dropped at Jakarada Hotel to see a beneficiary of KPLC houses, the late Njenga Karume who had close ties with President Kibaki. Karume kept him crouched on a table alone in the chilly evening as we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner and drinks and only waved at him as he left.
On his part Ndubai NEVER learned any lessons about CORRUPTION from Gichuru’s tribulations. Richard Ethan Ndubai, the former head of the National Youth Service (NYS) is now facing Ksh 9 billion NYS2 scandal. He has suffered two great loses in his life.
The first was Gichuru’s office love affair between his wife and her parastatal boss that triggered a chain of events that is almost bringing down two of the richest men in Kenya.
The second, and biggest loss for the 67 year-old Ndubai, is that at the twilight years of his illustrious career, massive theft at NYS has splattered an indelible blot on his seemingly impeccable CV after he was arraigned in court over the corruption riddled National Youth Service. He lost numerous cars, 30 pieces of land and millions in bank accounts he had accumulated in a short span of time.
www.youtube.com › watch › v=nkzfB7qCOzE
Ndubai lost friends in an instant. While remanded at Industrial area, he managed to get a mobile phone at Ksh 200 per minute and called a friend he thought could get him freed. The friend told him to listen carefully about something he had heard about the NYS case.
The man then told Ndubai, “Please keep this to yourself. Don’t tell the others. I am told you will be the first lot to be executed at Uhuru Park by a firing Squad as they do in China.” What followed was splintering noise as Ndubai threw the mobile phone away.
Another two notorious cases were unmasked by a Cooper Motor Corporation (CMC) Motors audit report that exposed long time Attorney General and Moi cabinet minister, century old Charles Njonjo and his Alliance School mate Jeremial Kiereini, a former Head of Civil Service and defence permanent secretary, as having inflated prices of government vehicles and siphoned millions from Tax Payers coffers. A looting spree that started in the sunset years of President Kenyatta.
The CMC Motors had a virtual monopoly of supplying government vehicles comprising British makes of Land Rovers and Bedford used by all ministries and the Army since independence. The inflated cash was banked in a joint account of two top civil servants who were stealing from the Kenyan public.
Devine Justice struck the two as Kiereini was robbed of his adult heir apparent son prematurely and Njonjo was disgraced by President Moi at his peak as Minister for Justice – yet engaged in massive criminal injustice. He even ceased to attend his annual ritual of Mzungu dog shows and lost patronage of alien community organisations.
The two denied Kenya citizen police transport and endangered national security by stealing funds that would buy more military trucks – yet they were very well paid and respected public servants. Kenyans in need would go to police stations to report incidents of crime only to be told the police did not have petrol when the two enjoyed 24-hour GSU guards around their residences and offices plus chase cars full of body guards.
What is the meaning of wealth that you cannot enjoy in your old age living in disgrace?
Unfortunately, there are many other Gichurus, Ndubais, Njonjos and Kiereinis in Kenya government, parastatals and private sector even today – but their turn will definitely come – God of Fate never fails.
It is better to enjoy your worldly Life at your youth, middle age and on retirement with a clear conscience and never looking over your shoulders in fear of your Corruptocratic past evils of unnecessary risks.
Many are Kenyans living in shame. Many are Kenyans who have died in their prime because of corruption-related maladies including but not limited to Alcoholism, HIV-AIDS, Road Accidents, Suicide and Devine Justice. Do not join them.