Why no one lives in Sh310m Runda house meant for CJ

If not for two Administration Police officers who go to the Chief Justice’s official residence every day to keep guard, the house and a fenced street leading to it would be a dense forest by now.

The house in Nairobi’s Runda has not been inhabited since it was bought for Sh310 million of taxpayers’ money under controversial circumstances in 2013.

Neither Chief Justice David Maraga nor his predecessor Willy Mutunga has lived in the palatial compound, with Justice Maraga currently living in his Karen home.

RUN1 Why no one lives in Sh310m Runda house meant for CJ

This photo taken on December 3, 2016 shows a section of the residence meant for the Chief Justice of Kenya. The house has not been inhabited. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Dr Mutunga used to operate from a rented apartment.

CARETAKERS

When the Sunday Nation visited the premises on Friday, all was dead quiet.

A white sentry box at the first gate appeared like it was longing for the day all its pillars will finally give in so that it can collapse to the ground for a much-awaited rest.

Bougainvillea and other flower species were sprouting into the street leading to the house, providing a metaphor of a haunted address.

“Nobody lives there. I just see two officers come and go every day,” a gardener in a neighbouring home said.

EACC

But why would a bungalow located in a high-end area, with a swimming pool to boot, not draw interest from the president of the Judiciary?

The delay by officials to occupy the house is partly because there were questions regarding its purchase.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigated the matter and later recommended charges against former Judiciary Registrar Gladys Shollei and seven other people for failure to comply with procurement laws when buying the house.

GLADYS SHOLLEI

Charges against the eight have since been dropped.

In 2015, Ms Shollei, now the Uasin Gishu Woman Representative, was charged with abuse of office, two years after she left the Judiciary on October 2013.

run2 Why no one lives in Sh310m Runda house meant for CJ

This image taken on July 2, 2014 shows the residential house meant for the Chief Justice. Its purchase was controversial. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The charge sheet stated that she used her position as the Judiciary’s chief registrar and also the accounting officer of the institution to “improperly” pay former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama the Sh310 million for the property.

“Being members of the tender committee, you wilfully failed to comply with the law by rejecting the submissions of the evaluation committee to award the tender for purchase of the Chief Justice’s residence to the tenderer with the lowest evaluated price without any justification,”part of charge read.

FREE

Ms Shollei and her co-accused had denied either participating in corruption or failing to comply with procurement laws.

Each was released on a Sh600,000 cash bail as they faced trial.

But last Monday, after a number of people had testified in court, Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko applied to withdraw the charges.

The DPP’s application followed a ruling by the appellate court that cases instituted by EACC between May 2015 and June 2016 had no legal standing because the agency had no commissioners.

Now that Ms Shollei is off the hook, it remains to be seen whether the CJ’s house along Runda Drive will finally get a dweller.

Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi did not reply to a query on Friday on the way forward after the termination of the case but, in a previous interview with the Sunday Nation on the matter, she could not comment as it was still before court.

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