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Blow to Ruto as Anglican head blocks political money

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The Anglican Church of Kenya primate Jackson Sapit yesterday waded into the centuries-old ethical conundrum of whether churches and by extension clerics as moral lighthouses should accept contributions whose sources are questionable.

Speaking during the Multi-Sectoral Initiative Against Corruption on the role of the Church in the fight against corruption, and in what is bound to further strike debate on what constitutes tainted cash and whether the Church should accept such money, Sapit urged all bishops to reject donations from politicians.

He expressed concern that cash gained nefariously is increasingly being brought to the church to a warm reception thus tainting the image of the house of worship.

“Let the pulpit be for the worship so that when we are leading the service, there are no interference from other people who spell out subjects not the agenda of the church,” he said, adding; “We need to dissect and identify the way of giving. This hype that I have to be known,

I have to be given an opportunity to speak is what the Church is now saying ‘No’ to.”

He acknowledged that the Church has lost in that game by allowing politicians to take over the pulpit and instead challenged churches to mobilise their own resources to fund development.

Fuelling controversy

READ ALSO:   Ruto: I won't stop raising church funds

Observers were yesterday quick to see the position taken by the ACK Archbishop as thinly aimed at Deputy President William Ruto, who in recent years has become a foremost generous and regular giver to churches.

Ruto has been giving millions to churches, drawing applause and apprehension in equal measure. Critics have interpreted his donations as meant to endear himself politically to congregants.

However, the ACK prelate’s position has opened a can of worms within the Deputy President’s corner with Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen, firing the first salvo, mocking Sapit over the claims and asked the church not to receive any form of donations.

“It will be great to see churches ban all harambees in church. It will be even greater to see them ban sinners from contributing tithes, offerings and harambee donations in church. Maybe then we shall truly say we are in Canaan or better still heaven on earth,” Murkomen tweeted.

Debate over what is tainted cash is neither new nor restricted to this country.

Irish Playwright George Bernard Shaw first gave the debate cogency in a celebrated play Major Barbara (1905), which concludes one “must either share in the world’s guilt or go to another planet.” In Major Barbara, the lead character, who is manufacturer of weapons of mass destruction, offers his daughter a major in the Salvation Army, donation to feed the needy and starving. The daughter rejects the offer but her superior snaps it up saying he would use money even from the devil himself and turn into use for good.

READ ALSO:   We'll continue giving money to churches, DP Ruto says

It will be recalled that Sapit’s predecessor as head of Anglican Church of Kenya, Rev Eliud Wabukala, through his stewardship of the Church was strident that the clergy should be stronger in faith and keep their

distance from manipulation from politicians, more so those who might come dangling goodies to win backing of the clergy.

But opinion of senior clerics is not unanimous. On Easter Sunday, Bishop Timothy Gichere of the ACK Mt Kenya Central diocese said no one should condemn others, as corrupt, asserting one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“When one comes to church and contributes money, we cannot decline it because we do not know if money is gotten from graft,” he said.

It is, however, Ruto’s church donations that have fuelled controversy about cash given to churches. With some estimates putting the figure to as high as several million shillings, since he became Deputy President, he may have opened himself to scrutiny even as he has insisted that giving to the church comes naturally to him as Christian duty and to help with the work churches undertake.

It is against that background and incessant snipping by political detractors, including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, who have been cautioning churches not to be used to launder or sanitise proceeds of corruption.

READ ALSO:   We'll continue giving money to churches, DP Ruto says

Enticing the church

Sapit yesterday termed corruption a cancerous bondage that has grown deep roots and is endemic weighing heavily on the back of every Kenyan and has found safe harbours even in churches.

Raila has questioning how the DP’s salary and his businesses can allow him to donate hundreds of millions of shillings as he does.

“There are some church leaders who are hue to their calling while others are not. We need to question the source of the millions of money being taken to churches,” Raila remarked, adding: “The church should be careful with these people masquerading as being wealthy and giving out money that they have stolen from public coffers.”

On his part, Sapit said things must be done differently where donations are done quietly, noting that harambee spirit started in post-colonial era to pull resources together where churches, hospitals, bridges were built, hospital bills and school fees paid and has been inculcated in the society even the church.

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Body of missing Maranda teacher recovered in River Nzoia

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The body of a teacher at Maranda High School who went missing two weeks ago has been found floating in River Nzoia.

The decomposed body of Kevin Otieno Ongoma was sighted by a resident of Sio Port at Bukoma area on Thursday evening.

The 33-year-old teacher went missing on October 10, 2020.

Siaya county police commander Mr Francis Kooli on Friday told the Nation the deceased’s family members positively identified the body following its discovery.

“Someone spotted a body in the river with similar clothes to the ones the teacher had when he went missing. The school was later informed about the discovery,” Kooli said.

The police commander said they suspect the teacher may have committed suicide.

“It is highly suspected that he might have committed suicide by throwing himself into the river but investigations will however establish what happened,” said Mr Kooli.

Suicide theory

But some family members have dismissed the suicide theory, claiming that the body of the deceased had injuries, an indication that the teacher could have been tortured, killed and dumped in the river.

They asked the police to conduct thorough investigations into the teacher’s death.

The Nation has established that the deceased will be buried on Monday, October 26 at his home village in Mbosie.

READ ALSO:   Ruto: I won't stop raising church funds

A teacher at Maranda High School, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Nation that a burial committee has already been formed at the school.

“We have been meeting to make burial arrangements, including contributing money towards the same ,” he said.

A police report seen earlier by the Nation indicates that the teacher, who headed the head biology department in the school, was last seen leaving the school while driving his car.

The vehicle was found the following day abandoned near River Nzoia in Ugunja Sub-county.

According to detectives investigating the matter, the teacher lived with his family within the school compound.

“He left the school quarters that morning and drove himself to an unknown destination,” said Mr Kooli.

His two mobile phones went off near the banks of river Nzoia where his vehicle was recovered.

Police said the body is being preserved at Ambira Sub-county Hospital mortuary.

by nation.co.ke

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Lifestyle

Alarm as more children are caught up in deadly lovers’ tiffs

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“What wrong did my son do to deserve such a death?”  a father asked as he watched the body of his 11-year-old son wheeled into a mortuary. The boy was a victim of a failed relationship between the mother and an estranged lover.

His death adds to the growing list of children paying the ultimate price due to fights between their parents.

Gideon Kang’ethe, Shanice Maua and Prince Michael are among the victims. And so are Claire Wanjira and Faith Wanjiru, both 10 years old.

On October 22, Mercy Gathoni (35), her daughter Claire Wanjira and Faith Wanjiru her niece, were found strangled in a shop at Jambo in Karatina Town.

Initial investigations by homicide detectives point at yet another case of children caught up in adult fights.

They were found lying on a bed each with a rope around their necks, an indication that they had been strangled to death.  Detectives placed their time of death at between 10am and 1pm.

Commotion

What has baffled both the residents and the police is that no one heard any commotion despite the fact that the scene where the murder was committed usually has heavy human traffic as it is along the busy Karatina-Nairobi highway.

READ ALSO:   We'll continue giving money to churches, DP Ruto says

According to residents, Ms Gathoni was last seen at around 9am. It still remains unclear how a man, believed to be known to the victims, walked into the backroom of the shop and strangled them.

After noticing that the shopkeeper was not attending to customers, Ms Gathoni’s niece Faith was sent to check on them. She was also strangled.

The bodies, according to residents were found at around 1pm in a room behind a grocery shop by Gathoni’s sister, Ms Rahab Mugure, who had gone to look for her daughter who had overstayed after being sent to check on her aunt.

Love triangle

In yet another case of a love affair turned sour, an innocent boy’s life was cut short brutally after he was caught up in a love triangle he neither understood nor played part in.

He had been reported missing for a week.  Mr Charles Muriuki was identified as a prime suspect in what was then seen as abduction of the Kirigu School pupil.

For days, detectives interrogated him at the Karatina sub county police headquarters as he denied his involvement. Kangethe’s body was found decomposing in a grave in Mathira, Nyeri County.

Mr Muriuki is now facing murder charges, accused of killing Kang’ethe.

Shanice and Prince Michael were also killed following a bitter spat between their mother and former Kenya Defence Forces soldier Peter Mugure.

READ ALSO:   Ruto: I won't stop raising church funds

by nation.co.ke

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Business

I bought a car from an online bazaar, but it ended in tears

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Buyer beware! The sleek car that you saw on that online bazaar may not be on sale – but a ruse to rip you off.

Three buyers fell for this trap, hoodwinked by a smooth-talking ‘salesman’ who promised to help them upgrade their cars, in a saga that ended in tears.

And the victims had thought that because a lawyer was involved in the transaction, this protected their interests as well. However, the manner in which they lost their cash raises questions about his role.

The address was an office block in the city centre, where the sale agreements would be drafted, buyers would part with their cash and the seller would thereafter vanish into thin air without delivering the vehicle.

Since 2018, when one of the cases was reported, the victim is yet to recover his money, with the lawyer claiming he did not know the seller.

This year, however, two more people have fallen prey to the scam and it’s unclear how many more have been conned.

Wanted to upgrade his car

Earlier this year, Mr Kelvin Ngugi, 23, wanted to upgrade his KBX Toyota Sienta and, while scrolling through the internet one evening, he came across a dealer who identified himself as Mr Ronald Bundi on Jiji.ke, the online classifieds website that acquired OLX.

Mr Bundi was willing to trade in Mr Ngugi’s old vehicle and Mr Ngugi, impressed at the convenience of that possibility, began making arrangements for that to happen.

However, before the deal could be closed, Mr Bundi informed him that the trade-in option was no longer viable.

He was left with the sole option of selling his car to buy the one he wanted, a white Toyota Sienta, registration KCQ.

Mr Ngugi hunted for a buyer, sold it and reached out to Mr Bundi for the car he wanted. He was informed the car was still available at a showroom along Kiambu road at Sh600,000.

“The plan was that I pay a Sh500,000 deposit and remit the balance in instalments of Sh25,000,” recalled Ngugi.

Mr Kelvin Ngugi.

On February 19, when they were to close the deal, Mr Bundi advised Mr Ngugi to meet him at lawyer Wilberforce Mariaria Nyaboga’s office at Uniafric House, along Koinange Street, for the payment and signing of a sale agreement.

Mr Ngugi says he did as advised, returned with the money and gave it to the lawyer, who, alongside the seller, started counting it.

When they confirmed the amount, the seller offered to go get the car with Mr Ngugi’s father from a garage in Hurlingham.

Mr Bundi explained the car had been taken to Hurlingham to be fitted with an alarm system to ease its tracking in the event Mr Ngugi failed to remit the balance.

Unbeknown to Mr Ngugi, this was the seller’s trick to get away with his money.

The two stepped out to hop onto motorbike taxis to speed them to the garage, but Mr Bundi sped past Mr Ngugi’s father and disappeared.

“Later Dad called to inform me that they had lost him. We tried reaching Bundi on the phone in vain.  That is how I realised I had been conned,” he said.

Mr Ngugi says he recorded a statement with a Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officer at Central Police Station but that is yet to bear any fruit.

He says the police have been unable to track down both Mr Bundi and the lawyer, even on the occasions the latter is spotted at his office.
On Thursday, the lawyer denied knowing Ngugi and ever having drafted the agreement.
————

Another victim

After giving up hope of ever recovering the Sh900,000 she paid for a Toyota RAV4, Ms Florence Awour (36) decided to share her predicament on a Facebook’s parenting group to expose Mr Bundi, who had conned her too.

Ms Awuor had spotted the car at Jiji.ke and involved her brother in making the purchase. She paid Sh1.1 million through the lawyer’s Equity Bank account but never got the car.

Ms Florence Awour.

Nation Media Group

Her brother had been assured the car was at a yard along Kiambu road. Her brother and a mechanic had checked out and test-driven the car twice before she paid for it.

She conducted a search on the car’s registration and realised her brother had also been given a fake logbook.

“I alerted the car’s owner, who in turn filed a report with a DCI officer at Central Police Station under OB number 67/26/02/2020.”

After publicising her tribulations, she said the lawyer refunded Sh200,000 and alleged the balance had been wired to the seller.

Yesterday, the lawyer acknowledged he refunded the money but after realising that the deal had gone sour. He admitted to having recorded a statement at Central police station where the matter has been pending under investigation for months.

“I was acting on behalf of the two because they came to me asking for an agreement to seal their deal. I am therefore not to blame. I am also aware that the police have been hunting the seller who I only know as Robert, who is unknown to me,” he said.

The sale agreement however was with Alice Nancy Momanyi.
—-

Seller disappeared into thin air

Henry Munene Muchiri (35) also gave up after a long wait for justice. He said police were unable to help him recover Sh600,000 paid for a Toyota Sienta bought via OLX but was never delivered to him in 2018.

“After expressing my interest, I was taken to a yard on Ngong Road where I saw the vehicle, inspected it and agreed to make a purchase.”

A Toyota Sienta 2010 model.

File | Nation Media Group

But before the car was released, Mr Munene was asked to accompany the seller to his lawyer’s office in town to sign a sale agreement.

“At some point everything was fine, the car’s logbook and search hinted at no foul play until I was asked to make the payment. Apparently they did not have a bank account so I was requested to pay in cash and I brought the money to the lawyer’s office.”

At some point the seller said he needed to rush downstairs to pick up a laptop for use in the transaction but he never came back.

“The lawyer claimed he didn’t know the seller in person and I reported the matter at Central Police Station under OB number 146/10/7/18 but the investigating officer kept asking for a facilitation fee to speed up investigations. I later gave up and returned to Kirinyaga,” he said.

Efforts to contact Mr Bundi were futile. His contacts as received from the victims were out of service and others were not being picked.

Cash withdrawn immediately

However, an attempt to send Sh5 to one of Mr Bundi’s contact to get his Mpesa-registered name was successful. The amount was, however, withdrawn from his end as soon as it was received. A text message the Nation sent to this number thereafter requesting his response to the claims by the victims wasn’t responded to.

After placing a call and sending a text message to the lawyer on Tuesday, October 20, requesting his response to the claims by the victims, he called back but declined an interview on phone.

Mr Mariaria told this writer to meet him on Wednesday, October 21, in his office. The meeting was then pushed to Thursday when the lawyer denied claims of acting in collusion with Mr Bundi.

He explained that although he had drafted two agreements in the past for transactions in which the buyers never got the vehicles, he has never been involved in any deal with Mr Bundi.

Mr Mariaria added he could not recall parties to the transactions because he offers legal services to many people.

“People come to me after agreeing to sell and buy cars from each other and all I do is sign the agreement and witness the transaction,” added the lawyer.

Denies culpability

Asked whether he was concerned about his office being used to swindle Kenyans money, he responded he cannot stop people from flocking to his office in search of legal services.

“The only mistake I committed was receiving Florence’s money in my account. Otherwise, there are too many criminals in town and cars are being sold every day. The only thing I can do is to be careful next time,” the lawyer said.

Jiji, a subsidiary of Digital Spring Ventures, acquired OLX from five countries in its efforts to become the leading classified marketplace in the world by traffic.

The transactions made through the platform are virtual, which exposes it to abuse but to cushion its clients from theft, the website advises buyers to only make payments for items bought after successful delivery.

“Avoid anything that appears too good to be true, such as unrealistically low prices and promises of quick money,” further reads the disclaimer.

by nation.co.ke

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