NLC on the spot over Sh1.5bn purchase of Integrity Centre

Economy

Integrity Centre Integrity Centre, the headquarters of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP. 

The Auditor-General Edward Ouko has flagged Sh1.5 billion purchase of the Integrity Centre after questions emerge on valuation done by the National Lands Commission (NLC).

The fact that the NLC was the acquiring entity, its decision to carry out valuation of the property and not the Lands ministry, is a conflict of interest as it goes against the principle of protecting the monetary interest of the government in such transactions.

In a report tabled in the National Assembly, the NLC said that it requested for valuation services from the Lands ministry but Mr Ouko has denied the claim.

“No evidence was availed for audit review to clarify whether the ministry played any role in the valuation of the property despite the fact that the department of land valuation in the ministry is mandated to provide valuation services,” Mr Ouko said.

Integrity Centre houses the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the process of acquiring it permanently for the commission was started in 1999 by the then Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).

Permanent home

It was officially acquired on April 30, 2018 and according to Mr Ouko, the aim was to have a permanent home for the anti-corruption body and to save on rent.

The NLC report of February 14, 2018 valued the land component at Sh795, 483,750 and improvements at Sh747, 899,166 but majority of the MPs believe that the price could be on the higher side and therefore no value for taxpayers’ money.

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“We will be seeking to find out the solutions to the doubts raised on the sale of the building once we start interrogating the matter,” Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee said.

Although the compulsory acquisition of the property is shrouded in controversy, after claims that it belonged to the government before it was irregularly transferred to a private entity, Mr Ouko notes that the sale had the blessings of Parliament and the office of the Attorney-General.

“The office of the Attorney-General and the Justice committee instructed the NLC to acquire the Integrity Centre on behalf of the EACC in accordance with the provisions of the Land Act of 2012. Consequently, the commission commenced the process of acquisition in December 2017.”