Ms Cecilia Mbugua sat pensively in the Ombudsman’s office. Her flashy pink suit portrayed a woman of means but her facial expressions betrayed her inner feelings.
Ordinarily, many would think that after a triumph over a county bully would make her rejoice but that was not the case for the widow. And as the Commission on Administrative Justice chairperson Florence Kajuju rose to hand over title deeds, Ms Mbugua made one request: Keep my file open.
After winning two land cases against two Kiambu County administrations, Ms Mbugua seems sure that more people will go after her Sh100 million plots located in the heart of Thika town.
This is the widow who brought down one of the country’s most powerful governors.
During the impeachment of Mr Waititu, ward reps accused the governor of unlawfully acquiring and occupying Ms Mbugua’s prime plots.
MCAs argued that Mr Waititu promptly facilitated the irregular transfer of the land totalling 0.135 hectares in January 2018 to Ms Esther Wamuyu Nyatu, who they claimed is his “common law wife”.
Ms Mbugua was forced to transfer her land to Esther Nyatu. An investigation and interrogation of the governor by the Ombudsman revealed how he threatened and manipulated Ms Mbugua into handing over her land.
The widow owns five plots in Thika town, and in 2013 sought approval of the county to develop the land. The approval was granted but later rejected after county officials claimed the land belonged to the Thika Jua Kali Association, even though Ms Mbugua was in possession of title deeds.
She went to court challenging the county and she won the case in 2016.
In a December 2017 meeting with the newly elected Mr Waititu, Ms Mbugua was told she would be granted permission to develop her property on condition that she gave up two plots. Ms Mbugua was forced to accept the deal.
The plots — Thika Municipality/BlockXI /877 and Thika Municipality/ BlockXI/878 — were transferred to Ms Nyatu and the investigation by the Ombudsman showed no bank slip or land sale agreement had been drawn to show how the land came to be in Ms Nyatu’s possession.
Mr Waititu, when interrogated by the commission, admitted that he was the one who facilitated the transfer.
“Our investigators interviewed a number of county land officials who participated in the transfer of the plots. The officers indicated that Ms Esther Nyatu’s details, including copies of ID, KRA pin and passport photograph were given to them by the governor and that the transfer of the properties to her name was directed by the governor,” Ms Kajuju said yesterday.
She added that the governor personally paid for the transfer of the properties.
Following the investigation, the Thika Land Registrar issued a 30-day notice to all interested parties with a claim to the land.
No objection was made and the land reverted to Ms Mbugua.
“I am not willing to ask for compensation at the moment. I still live in Kiambu County and I just want to live in peace. I do not want any more problems in the future. “But I would like to ask the commission to keep my file open in case I find more challenges along the way,” said an emotional Ms Mbugua, who was accompanied by her son and daughter.
BY Agewa Magut and Elizabeth & Elizabeth Kamurungi