Former Olkejuado boss, Tarayia Kores, has dismissed Governor Joseph Lenku’s assertion he saved millions in an out of court settlement with an investor.
Kores on Monday claimed governor Lenku is not being truthful to the public by saying he saved Sh400 million after striking a deal, whose details were not revealed with an investor in Amboseli National Park.
Last week governor Lenku claimed that when it became apparent that there was no probability of legal success for the county government against Amboseli Safari Club he sought an out of court agreement.
Lenku claimed he sought the intervention of a state law office to hammer the agreement that saved the county Sh 400 million in interests. The governor never gave details of the deal which Kores view as “suspect”.
Kores, who was elected chairman of the council in 2004, said the owner of the hotel, Nilaben Desai had signed a land lease contract with the council for a lodge in the Amboseli National Park in the late 1960s.
Desai is alleged to have signed the lease contract when the late Francis Lemeeki ole Legis was the Olkejuado County Council Chairman.
“After the deal was done, Desai continued doing business in the Amboseli for many years later without paying a single cent to the council. Besides the Amboseli Safari Club, Desai also owned Kilimanjaro Safari Club in the park, which he was also not paying its rent,” claimed Kores.
Kores said that in 2010 after it had also become apparent that the investor was not ready to pay rent as stipulated in the contract deal, he summoned Desai to show cause why legal action should not be taken against him.
“Desai did not respond, and when I told him that the council would be visiting the national park in Amboseli, he created interest and joined me and other 15 councillors when we went there in that year,” said Kores.
Did not respond
The former chairman said that after arriving in Amboseli, they found Desai waiting for them. After a short meeting with the councillors and their chairman, Desai is alleged to have made a call to his son in Nairobi.
“After about one hour, a private chartered plane landed in Amboseli with Desai’s son. After consulting with son, he came over to me with Sh5 million and asked me to take the money for my tea,” claimed Kores.
Kores claimed he told Desai to pay the council the money in his possession instead of attempting to bribe him.
“He was so pained by my refusal of the money and so he left in a huff. It was also at that point when we realise that Amboseli Safari Club was not functioning and lions were living inside the property,” said Kores.
The chairman said he, later on, used the services of an auctioneer to bring down Kilimanjaro Safari Club property, which was also owned by Desai.
“As a council, we decided to end our business relationship with Desai because he was of no value to us and yet he continued to operate on our property,” said Kores.
Desai is said to have reported the matter to former President Mwai Kibaki, who ordered the former head of civil service and secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura to look into the conduct of Olkejuado County Council in dealing with Desai.
Muthaura allegedly summoned the Attorney General to convene a meeting with top officials in the tourism industry, the local government and Olkejuado county council in a bid to resolve the stalemate that was reported by Desai.
The meeting that was immediately called to be held at the Harambee House was attended by Muthoni Kimani from AG’s office, Tourism Minister Najib Balala, PS Local Government Solomon Boit, KWS Director Julius Kipng’etich, Desai and Kores.
In the meeting, both Desai and Kores explained their cases. Desai was given 11 days to pay Olkejuado County Council Sh40 million that had accrued from unpaid rent.
Desai allegedly told the meeting he would be flying out of the country to attend a burial and had no money at the time to pay the council.
He, later on, went to court to seek compensation from the council for alleged illegal eviction and destruction of property.
The court, sitting in Nairobi, allegedly surprised the council officials after it awarded Desai, despite refusing to pay rent for nine years, Sh360 million.
The court also ordered a 12 per cent annual interest on the award until the money paid in full.
“We were shocked by that court decision because it is Desai that provoked us and had sat on our property for 14 years without paying us a single cent in rent,” said Kores.
The former chairman said Desai outdid the council by rushing to court, adding that the local council had also planned to appeal the case, but the devolved government took over in 2003.
“The county government was supposed to appeal the case after taking over from us that year, but the then governor Dr David Nkedianye ignored it,” claimed Kores.
Kores told Lenku to tell the public how he saved millions of shillings. He said he knows Desai so well after he allegedly attempted to bribe him with Sh5 million.
“I will go back to court on behalf of Kajiado people to appeal that case. It is in that court when the truth about Lenku and Desai will come out,” said Kores.
The arbitrator ordered a 12 per cent annual interest on the award until the money was fully paid.
County Attorney Augustine Sekeyian and CEC Finance Alais Kisota allegedly met with State Counsel Samuel Kaumba and Co-directors of Amboseli Safari Club Desai and Kindest Sandeep to hammer the agreement, whose details were not made public, on April 24.
Kores asked Lenku to make public the details of the deal between him and Desai before he (Kores) digs out what they have hidden in the closet.