John Gakuo the saviour of Nairobi who ended up in its prisons and died in its hospital

Alexander Musee, Mary Ngethe, John Gakuuo, Samy Kirui when they were jailed for three years each for defrauding Nairobi City Council of Sh283 million in cemetery land procurement in this picture taken on May 15, 2018. [File, Standard]
By Standard reporter

John Gakuo’s death perhaps exemplifies the foibles of a great man.During his tenure as the Nairobi City Clerk, the metropolis experienced a burst of improved service delivery.

Garbage was collected. Street families were cleared from the city pavements and Nairobi was looking great.

Such was the city’s faith in the man that in certain quarters he was seen the best candidate for Nairobi’s governorship in 2017.

But he did not run. But in recognition of his sense of duty, Governor Mike Sonko would appoint as the co-chair of Nairobi Regeneration Committee that was mandated with reclaiming Nairobi’s lost glory after the resignation of Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe.

A year before in 2017, Sonko had named Gakuo as his adviser on Urban Planning, renewal and environment.

Gakuo’s jailing together with former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui marked a dramatic end for the duo and two others.

They had been out on bail for six years.

The Standard would report: “The judgment came as a nightmare for Gakuo, a man who was once one of the most powerful faces at City Hall. The convicts’ lawyers said they would appeal against the sentencing.”

Kirui was accused of abuse of office in December 2008 for authorising payment to Naen Rech Ltd for the cemetery land in Mavoko and in so doing, ignoring concerns raised by the City Council’s Planning Department on the land’s suitability.

Gakuo faced the charge of willfully failing to comply with procurement rules by refusing to terminate the contract with Naen Rech Ltd even after he was informed of the unsuitability of the land being offered.

“Kirui and Gakuo knew the procurement process for the land was flawed, the law required them to terminate the process as soon as the information came to their attention but they chose not to act thereby aiding in defrauding public funds,” said Magistrate Douglas Ogoti.

PS John Gakuo is shown a board used by visually impaired people by an official of the Kenya Society for the blind, Lucy Ngokonyo.He was the Acting Health Permanent Secretary. Picture taken on May 3, 2003. [File, Standard]
Illegal payment According to the magistrate, the two voluntarily caused the illegal payment to the company selling the land despite having the authority to halt the flawed tender.

He added that Gakuo was at the centre of the entire process but did not stop it, and ruled that the former city clerk’s correspondence with the former PS was a deliberate cover up to defraud the Sh283 million.

“What they did was like a cover-up game. When issues were raised about the land’s suitability, Kirui said he informed Gakuo to look into the concerns raised after which he decided to be passive as public money was being lost,” said Ogoti.

Co-accused former City Council legal director Mary Ngethe and ex-procurement committee secretary Alexander Musee were accused of knowingly giving a misleading report that the tender evaluation committee had approved the contract, which resulted in the city council paying the amount for unsuitable land.

Ngethe was additionally charged with giving a false evaluation report to the city council, which earned her another three years in jail that will run concurrently with the sentence for the first charge.

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