Netizens have been taken aback by the story of three former Nairobi County officials; Jimmy Mutuku Kiamba, Wilson Nashon Kanani and Michael Auka Ajwang who held a years-long heist on City Hall’s coffers and pocketed billions of shillings, interfering with plans to better the city.
Sleuths from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) started keeping an eye on Kiamba’s vast portfolio worth over half a billion shillings on November 5, 2014, seeking to recover assets he acquired during his tenure as an accountant.
The inquiry disclosed that Kiamba’s key role was to ensure the banking of millions collected by City Hall officials in several departments.
Although money was always banked, the deposits were made in accounts that did not belong to City Hall.
Records show that when he first gained employment at City Hall in January 2007, Kiamba and his wife Tracy Mbinya Musau were worth Sh1 million.
They listed their wealth as a plot of land in Athi River worth Sh400,000 and a car valued at Sh600,000.
A year later, the couple had built rental flats on the Athi River land and made Sh300,000 from tenants.
Throughout the construction phase, they only incurred the liability of a Sh50,000 loan from Cooperative Bank.
“This was an indication that the property development was either developed from cash payments or the couple borrowed millions and repaid it all in less than a year,” EACC says in a report.
Their net worth jumped to Sh401 million by 2013.
Between January and November 2014, Kiamba banked Sh400 million in eight of his bank accounts, which made him an A-list embezzler and a big shot amongst the fabled City Hall cartels.
Unsurprisingly, this drew the attention of the taxman, who dug deeper and that Kiamba had an additional three secret bank accounts that EACC detectives had not traced.
Even more shocking, they found out that the man on a Sh85,000 monthly salary banked at least Sh1.5 billion in the period of interest.
Several City Hall employees would deposit millions in Kiamba’s various accounts, the most prominent being his bodyguard Barnabas Oigo with Sh69.1 million banked.
Others were clerk Ambrose Musa (Sh3.5 million), driver Josephat Njoroge (Sh1.3 million), deputy chief financial officer Stephen Ogaga (Sh4.1 million), an unidentified individual (Sh6 million) and Mr Kiamba (Sh7.4 million).
Despite a heavy cloud of graft hanging above his head, Kiamba still got a pay rise and was on Sh145,000 a month before leaving City Hall in 2015.
In defending his ill-gotten riches, Mr Kiamba claimed a 100-acre farm he was leasing in Narok generated Sh51.5 million.
He added that he had a quarry and transport business that generated Sh228 million and three bars in Mombasa.
His other businesses and property sales earned Sh35.3 million.
When the High Court applied its various tests on the submitted arguments in July 2019, the judge ruled that the Sh317.6 million found to be unexplained wealth be forfeited to the state.
She further ordered the forfeiture of the Runda land in Kiamba’s name.
Although Kiamba’s case sounds like one of the most shocking tales to come out of City Hall, he is just one of the dozens of county officials living large on average salaries.
Earlier this month, the EACC launched a similar inquest into a lower-ranking City Hall official, namely Wilson Nashon Kanani, who earns Sh55,000 every month but has assets worth nearly Sh100 million.
Kanani is a development control officer tasked with clamping down on companies that flout laws on outdoor advertising.
But the companies he regulates send vast sums of money to his bank accounts.
Wilson Nashon Kanani was banking millions of stolen funds every month.
In social circles, Kanani is silently known as one of the principal shareholders of 1824 Bar & Restaurant in Nairobi’s Lang’ata suburb.
Detectives say they have reason to believe that the nightclub, one of Nairobi’s most popular establishments, was founded with proceeds of graft.
According to court papers, 1824 opened its doors in 2014, two years before the investigation that the EACC declared in court papers.
But should the anti-graft detectives succeed in court, he will probably be forced to surrender the asset.
The EACC has filed forfeiture proceedings against Kanani, his family and four companies he owns in a bid to recover millions of shillings.
The companies are Wilman Auto Invests, Willy Walla International Ltd, Regineez Enterprises Ltd and Wilcoreg Ltd.
The anti-corruption watchdog argues some of the companies are doing business with Nairobi County, a clear conflict of interest.
Wilcoreg Ltd is one of the firms in the National Assembly’s pool of stationery suppliers.
Wilcoreg is also in Siaya County’s pool of firms that drill boreholes, construct dams, water pans, roads and bridges.
Recently, EACC probed City Hall procurement officer Michael Auka Ajwang, earning Sh53,685 monthly.
Ajwang’s net salary is Sh21,000, but he is by no means an ordinary citizen.
He is suspected of receiving kickbacks amounting to Sh40 million from various contractors.
Within a short period, he has accumulated five pieces of land in Siaya County, three in Kisumu County, and owns a plush home in Nairobi’s Utawala estate.
He also boasts of 11 vehicles whose models the anti-graft watchdog is yet to name.
Ajwang owns the Hydeout Riviera, a three-star hotel just off the busy Kisumu-Bondo Road, at Reru junction.
The hotel boasts of offering one of the best agritourism experiences, with farm stay options on its list of unique services.
The EACC traced back his finances from 2014 when he started receiving suspicious bank deposits.
The court granted the commission’s request to freeze the assets for the duration of the case, to avoid opening the door for Ajwang to dispose of properties or drain his bank accounts.
Kiamba, Kanani and Ajwang are simply a small fraction of millionaires made at City Hall.
Kanani and Ajwang’s innocence or otherwise will be determined by the courts.