The late Foreign Minister Robert Ouko who detectives investigating his death said he disagreed with Nicholas Biwott over the cancellation of the Kisumu molasses plant project. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Nicholas Biwott’s involvement in a Kisumu molasses plant featured prominently in a commission's inquiry into the murder of Robert Ouko.
The lead investigator, Scotland Yard detective John Troon, sought to draw a link between Mr Biwott’s interests in the molasses plant and the murder of the minister, whose partially burnt body was found at Got Alila, near his Koru home, in February 1990, a few days after he had been reported missing.
According to Mr Troon, the late Biwott had disagreed with Dr Ouko over the cancellation of the project which was to be constructed in Kisumu which the latter represented in Parliament at the time.
Dr Ouko was very keen on the project, partly because he hoped to get serious political mileage and also because it would open up employment opportunities to his constituents.
Mr Biwott, on the other hand, expected to extract “kickbacks” from the project, through intermediaries, Mr Troon claimed during the inquiry.
The intermediaries, said to have been then cabinet ministers Prof George Saitoti and Elijah Mwangale and then State House Comptroller Abraham Kiptanui wanted the kickbacks to facilitate the construction of the plant.
He claimed that these differences led to Mr Biwott conspiring to eliminate Dr Ouko, who he felt was standing in the way of the kickbacks.
He suggested that at the time of his murder, Dr Ouko was documenting a “corruption dossier” on the project which he intended to share with then President Moi and in which he was to adversely implicate Mr Biwott.
During the Judicial Inquiry on November 18, 1991, Mr Troon was pressed by the prosecutor, Bernard Chunga to give the basis for his theory. It is however instructive to note that the allegations were never substantiated as the inquiry came to an abrupt end before Mr Troon could adduce evidence to prove them or be cross examined by Mr Biwott or his lawyers.
Mr Chunga later rose to become the Chief Justice in the Moi government but was unceremoniously hounded out of office when the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) government assumed the reins of power in 2003.
The Kisumu Mollases plant has since been bought from the Kenya government by Spectre International, a company owned by the Odinga family.
Mr Biwott also adversely mentioned in the Kroll report on the Turkwel Gorge Hydro-Electric Dam Project. The report claimed that the late powerful minister siphoned funds meant for the project in Kerio Valley for personal gain.
The report claimed that the original cost of the contract for the project was between $70-$80 million but was inflated to about $270 million.
The late Biwott vigorously fought the allegations, saying there was no evidence whatsoever to prove that the project was overpriced in the first place.
He also dismissed claims that the project was single sourced, with no feasibility studies ever undertaken to determine its viability or otherwise. Mr Biwott tabled document to show that if anything, four feasibility studies had been undertaken prior to the project’s commencement.
The official documents of the Turkwel Gorge project show that the final feasibility study was carried out in 1983/1984. The contract for the project was not awarded until 1985.
Documents also showed that the project had been was completed by the French in 1991, two years ahead of the estimated schedule.