A couple has accused a son of former Naivasha MP John Mututho of obtaining more than Sh3 million from them in the pretext that he would sell them a luxurious apartment in a high-end estate in Nairobi’s Dagoretti over three years ago.
At the same time, several businessmen are accusing the son, Martin Munene Njenga, of refusing to pay them over Sh7 million after he subcontracted them early last year to renovate several KenolKobil petrol stations.
The aggrieved couple and the five businessmen reported the matters at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on Kiambu Road a month ago, leading to the brief arrest of Mr Njenga two weeks ago. He was released after posting bail of Sh50,000.
Contacted for comment Friday, Mr Njenga said he was in a meeting and promised to call later, but had not done so by last evening. He also did not respond to our text messages.
In their police statement, the couple, who did not wish to be named, said they gave Mr Njenga the money between June 2016 and March 2017 as a down payment for a three-bedroom flat they believed they were purchasing for Sh8 million.
The couple said they first heard of the property deal in May 2016 during a programme on a local Christian radio station, where Mr Njenga was pitching the Gold Apartments idea.
The property was being sold off-plan, meaning that interested buyers would have to pay a percentage of the value of their property as a deposit to enable the developer to build the apartments.
“As a small family, we were interested in buying a home for ourselves, that is, my husband, young son and I,” reads the couple’s statement, in which they also state that they met Mr Njenga at an office on Othaya Road in Kileleshwa, where they put pen to paper.
They say they paid Mr Njenga the Sh3.8 million in six instalments between June 25, 2016 and March 21, 2017.
The money was paid to two of Mr Njenga’s companies, Munene Njenga Development Corporation and Vuyo Land & Development Ltd.
Ground-breaking for the apartment complex was supposed to take place in December 2016 and the completion date, according to the sale agreement, was supposed to be on or around December 2018.
However, that did not happen, with cat-and-mouse games ensuing. “My husband and I became concerned that the said ground-breaking did not take place, and Munene began using several phone numbers,” they say.
Mr Njenga, they say, gave the excuse that the contractor had gone back to China without notice with the deposit for the apartment project.
But they could not verify this claim because Mr Njenga allegedly withheld from them the name of the Chinese company that was to build the apartments.
“We also found out from the security guard at his office that Munene had begun acting strangely, using different rental cars and only coming late at night and very early [in the] morning and leaving immediately, a fact we found very suspicious,” they say.
They add: “It was then he stopped taking our calls and offered no update on the construction, and [we] found out that the contract he purported to have with the owners of the land where he was to put up the apartment … was a forgery to entice people to buy into his scam.”
On the other matter, five entrepreneurs told investigators that Mr Njenga has refused to pay them after they completed renovations on a number of KenolKobil petrol stations, which had initially been given to Mr Njenga’s companies but which he subcontracted to them.
The ex-MP’s son has allegedly been writing bouncing cheques to the distraught businessmen, which is a criminal offence.
Sometimes, according to documents seen by the Saturday Nation, he writes cheques to them using bank accounts that had long been closed.
One of the subcontracts dated February 3, 2019 is between Vuyo and an aggrieved company called Filiad Contractors Ltd to renovate a KenolKobil petrol station on River Road in Nairobi for Sh581,173.55.
Mr Njenga was to pay the subcontractor 35 days after completing the works, but he is yet to do so more than eight months later despite repeated promises to Filiad.
The work, which involved laying cabro blocks and a stormwater system, tiling floors and painting, started on February 18 and ended 10 days later, and a completion certificate was issued on February 25.
According to a payment agreement dated the same day, Vuyo was supposed to pay Filiad its fees by March 24, 2019, a date that came and passed with no money in the latter’s account.
On the day he was supposed to pay the subcontractor, Mr Njenga asked for an extension of up to April 15, 2019, explaining that he could not pay them because there had been a delay in handing over the project to the client, KenolKobil.
Mr Njenga told the subcontractor to deposit a post-dated cheque he gave them in May, but it bounced when they did so.
“Upon enquiring from the bank, the bank wrote me an email advising me that the account had been closed,” says Mr Andrew Karanei, a director at Filiad, in his statement to DCI.
Upon further enquiries at KenolKobil, they were informed that Mr Njenga had been paid for the works, but they could not stop the fuel operator from making further payments to Mr Njenga, as the subcontractors did not have a contract with the firm.
Another complainant, Nancy Njeri Gacheri, wants the businessman to pay Sh80,000 for building materials she delivered to Vuyo in March this year.
“He has simply stopped picking up my calls,” Ms Gacheri told the Saturday Nation by phone. “The money might not seem much to him, but it feeds my children.”
While acknowledging that Mr Njenga owes the subcontractors money, Mr Mututho said his son is not a crook and questioned how the aggrieved parties have gone about pursuing justice.
“I didn’t like the way they went to social media and to DCI to shame my son,” said Mr Mututho by phone.
“He is not a crook. Although they might have grievances, these people should pursue their issues with some decency.”
He said he was aware of “one disgruntled client” in the Gold Apartments deal, adding that he had advised his son to settle all the pending issues about the apartments.
“He is an adult and free to make his decisions. But I have always told him that if he is stuck, he can always come to me as his father,” said the former MP.
This is the second of Mr Mututho’s sons to be caught up in allegations of impropriety.
In March 2014, Daniel Njenga was charged with obtaining Sh1.6 million from Jane Mbakaya by falsely pretending he could sell her a plot.
The case was thrown out in November 2016 after witnesses failed to show up in court.
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