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CITY CABANAS: DEADLY KISII LAND CARTEL – ANYONE’S KENYAN NIGHTMARE – Part-3

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CITY CABANAS: DEADLY KISII LAND CARTEL – ANYONE’S KENYAN NIGHTMARE – Part-3

By 1997, City Cabanas was full-swing into the entertainment industry both as a venue and as a promoter.

In that year alone, they arranged the kick-ass tour of Kenya by the explosive duo of Chaka Demus and Pliers, singers of the timeless raga classics Murder She Wrote and Tease me.

Poster of Chaka & Pliers for a 1997 round of concerts in Kenya

We are talking about close to a quarter century ago, when a living and thriving entity was doing rip-roaring business on a prime property of Nairobi, and then suddenly in 2016, a married couple from the bowels of Kisii would come up 2 decades later to claim ownership of this property.

But who were the key people that made this attempted heist possible?

In 2011, two longtime friends Laban Onditi Rao and Simon Nyamanya Ondiba were arrested by CID for forging and presenting forged documents to the registrar of Companies.

The forged documents were in relation to purported minutes of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).

Laban Onditi Rao (Left) with Zipporah Kittony (R) at a past official function

In the forged minutes, Laban Onditi and Simon Nyamanya had altered the names of the legitimately elected office- bearers during the AGM that year but even more scarily, they had inserted some decisions regarding KNCCI property, none of which had been deliberated upon at the AGM.

The duo of Onditi and Nyamanya actually went ahead and put these minutes on a KNCCI letterhead which they then presented to the registrar of companies, alongside a forged copy of a legal form 203(a) – Notification of change of Directors.

These two characters would actually have managed to get away with this heist, if their own colleagues at KNCCI hadn’t blown the whistle on them, leading to their arrest and prosecution.

The 2011 charge sheet for Laban Onditi & Simon Namanya for forgery

But these fuckers are resilient, and not easily dissuaded from a chosen path, especially if it promises much money at the end.

In February 2017, KNCCI suspended Laban Onditi from the Vice-Chairmanship to which he had been elected in 2016, while the rest of the Board (10 members signing) removed him entirely from it on the basis of bringing the organization into disrepute, for his underhand activities in the sad issue surrounding the City Cabanas land.

Laban Onditi was arrested and arraigned in court on 26th January 2017.

It was his removal from the Vice Chairman’s position at KNCCI that prompted him to sprint to court seeking orders to keep him in place.

In court, he sued the KNCCI Chairman Kiprono Kittony and KNCCI itself in civil case 55 of 2018 and (quite predictably) solely relied on the affidavit of another KNCCI board member from Nyanza, one Benjamin Onkoba, who also happens to be from the Kisii community.

Kiprono Kittony when he won the KNCCI Chairmanship in 2016

Despite the courts ordering that the matter be heard and evidence adduced orally, none of the parties entered appearance even once, but they instead agreed to allow the Judge to make a ruling based on the documents filed before the court.

It was very clear to the judge that the refusal of Onkoba to make oral submissions about his affidavit, especially where he claimed that he did not sign the resolution to remove Laban Onditi, meant that he was unavailable for cross-examination.

How then could his claims that he did not sign the resolution and that his signature was forged be challenged by the respondents?

With that, the case collapsed and was tossed out by Justice Mary Kasango.

Nothing brings out the God-complex in Laban Onditi Rao than the application he made at the High Court in an earlier civil suit No. 59 of 2017 immediately after his suspension, seeking the leave of the court to institute a derivative action on behalf of the KNCCI.

Laban Onditi Rao during his glory days at KNCCI

A derivative action is a claim brought by an individual shareholder, acting on behalf of and for the benefit of a company, against the directors of the company. The derivative action is brought to remedy wrongs committed against the company, which the company is not willing to pursue itself.

In this case, Onditi claimed that his removal from KNCCI would greatly affect the running of the company and in the process, jeopardize its existence.

In this case too, he had sued its Chairman Kiprono Kittony, who he seemed to have serious grudge against, and against whom he made many outrageous claims.

His most ludicrous claim was that Kittony had engineered his removal from the board of the KNCCI because he feared him and the fact that he was a strong candidate to succeed him as KNCCI Chairman.

This suit was outrageously flimsy and filled with hubris.

READ:

  1. The Dangerous Kisii Cabal Targets City Cabanas – Part-1
  2. City Cabanas: The Dangerous Kisii Land Cabal At Work: Epitome Of Ruthlessness – Part 2

Why would Laban Onditi sue in the name of the KNCCI and not his own, considering that he had been suspended and removed from its board in his personal capacity?

Well, he claimed that Kittony was at the helm of the KNCCI to pursue his own personal interests and agenda, and that only he (Onditi) had the capacity to stand in his way.

He also felt that if his removal was allowed to stand, projects that he was overseeing would collapse. For instance, he would claim that he had engineered an agreement with the Chinese Government for fully paid staff training on technical issues.

The truth is that Onditi had over the years been the gatekeeper for such training opportunities, reserved exclusively for the KNCCI, and fully funded by key American, European and Chinese Governments.

The slots in question though, never went to deserving cases, and instead Onditi established a scheme where he made the opportunities available for those willing to part with anything between Ksh.500,000/- and Ksh.1,000,000/- depending on the “prestige” of the country offering the opportunities.

In his filings at the High Court, Onditi would make spurious claims that his work with KRA on civic education would collapse or that his absence from representing KNCCI at the EPZ might hamper its effectiveness was ridiculous to say the least.

He even had the gall to state to the court that the proposed construction of 200 factories in Narok was in jeopardy, now that he was no longer in office because the principals in this project only had confidence in him alone…!

It is the same lopsided view that Francis Atwoli has of the workers body COTU, while in actual fact he keeps himself busy hob-nobbing with the political elite and chasing the elusive “Luhya unity” and not with workers issues.

Granted, Onditi had played a significant role in lobbying for Kittony to become KNCCI Chairman, his expectations were that he would then be allowed to become the de facto Chairman of the organization and ride roughshod over its affairs.

It explains the actual venom in this suit at the High Court, and duly noted by Justice Fred O. Ochieng, who bounced him out of the court like a tennis ball.

This is the man who set his sights on the land belonging to Roseline Njeri Macharia, the proprietor of the famous City Cabanas establishment, and her land on Mombasa Road she had bought from KNCCI in 1994 -1995 and which she has occupied since.

Fraudster Simon Nyamanya when arrested for forgery

Because he knew the history of the City Cabanas sale and ownership due to his long time at KNCCI, and he understood that the owner is a widow and therefore considered helpless, Onditi activated the Kisii land cartel at Lands and forged various documents from where he managed to get fake land ownership documents for the City Cabanas property.

This led to his arrest and arraignment before Nairobi Principal Magistrate Martha Mutuku and charged with three counts of conspiracy to defraud and forgery of two documents in pursuit of a 4 hectares parcel of land in Embakasi Nairobi valued at Ksh 2 billion.

The charge sheet alleged that on the 3rd of April 2014 at an unknown place together with others not in court with intent to defraud, he conspired to defraud Roseline Njeri Macharia of her parcel of land located in Embakasi.

He was released on a cash bail of Ksh. 300,000 with an alternative bond of Ksh. 500, 000.

These are the charges that would eventually have him tossed out of the KNCCI, a lifeline that he did not envisage for himself, because he was ejected at a time when KNCCI was about to make a quantum leap in activities and many opportunities abounded, and that he was terrified that he would miss out on.

His co-conspirator Simon Nyamanya Ondiba was a close ally and confidante of National Land Commission (NLC) Chairman Mohammed Swazuri, who would throw him some gigs as a Land Fraud Investigator.

Simon Nyamanya Ondiba handcuffed in court during his January 2021 arraignment

It was to Swazuri that the duo of Onditi and Nyamanya would lodge their claim of the City Cabanas land with the fake documents, this time the urgency being due to the proposed construction of the Mombasa Road expressway and the inevitable compulsory acquisition of land lying next to the highway.

The departure of the Swazuri did nothing to hamper the duos nefarious scheme because his replacement – Gershom Otachi – was another Kisii, and with whom they gained a large measure of confidence, and who would entertain their claim regardless of its outrageousness.

In the High Court’s Environment & Land Courts (ELC) Division, another Kisii – Justice Samson Okong’o, a throwback of the promotions made by retired CJ David Maraga, entertained a civil suit brought by Simon Nyamanya based purely on fiction, and granted orders that favored the forgers, to the detriment of the real owners.

Eventually Justice Okong’o, faced with overwhelming evidence, granted orders that allowed the widow Roseline Njeri Macharia to be paid 50% of the compulsory compensation for the acquisition of the property by the Government.

Obviously the question remains, why only 50% if he had determined who the real owner of the property to be?

Onditi, Ondiba, Onkoba, Otachi, Okong’o…keep in mind these names.

They are a great example of just how low our country has fallen and the danger of claiming that you own any property in the country, because tomorrow someone may just wake up and lay claim to it, while you are comfortably perched on it and glowing because you now own property, a most important of life events.

 

Next: How the attempted heist of City Cabanas was executed, and by whom

 

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