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Isiolo residents ask DCI, Uhuru to help end land grabbing

Saturday January 25 2020

Land demos at Burat Ward in Isiolo

Residents of Burat Ward in Isiolo County during a protest against KDF's claim of ownership of a disputed piece of land, September 20, 2019. More than 100 victims of land grabbing in Isiolo have appealed for a fresh investigation by the DCI. PHOTO | WAWERU WAIRIMU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WAWERU WAIRIMU
By WAWERU WAIRIMU
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More than 100 victims of land grabbing in Isiolo County have appealed for a fresh probe by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) so that justice is served.

For the residents of Tuluroba, Mwangaza, Kambi ya Juu, Chechelesi, Mabatini and Kiwanjani, the predicament dates back to as early as the 1970s.

The people want the ongoing land adjudication process suspended until the matter is resolved, so that their ownership rights are not violated.

CARTELS CLAIM

A recently amended legal notice allows adjudication in townships and settlements but excludes resort cities, the Lapsset corridor, military and security installations, national reserves and holding grounds.

The residents' group chairperson, Mr Paul Nkunja, said, “We are not opposed to the titling process but want our areas exempted as issuance of titles will profit the land grabbers."

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Mr Nkunja claimed some of the residents have been forced to seek refuge at their friends’ homes as tycoons, who have colluded with corrupt land officials, forced them off their property.

The land cartels, he said, work with a powerful local politician, who grabbed a parcel of land in the outskirts of Isiolo town.

COMPLAINTS

Ms Mary Njeri lashed out at the county for failing to resolve land disputes despite being furnished with ownership documents.

Ms Zainab Ibrahim said she was forcefully evicted from her land at Mwangaza after her neighbour secretly sold her parcel without her consent.

“We are in total pain. My mother died after developing health complications immediately after we were ordered off our land. There is a lot of favouritism at the Isiolo lands office,” she claimed.

Mr James Muriungi claimed his land was grabbed by the bodyguard to a former senior county government official about 20 years ago.

Mr Muriungi said this resulted in demolition of his house and construction of another of top of his child's grave.

“I have visited over 12 offices in Nairobi to no avail. My neighbours say I am the rightful owner of the land but officials insist that it belongs to the police officer,” he said.

PLEA

Addressing journalists in Isiolo town, the group appealed for President Uhuru Kenyatta's intervention and suspension of the adjudication process until court cases are concluded.

Among the cases are number 6 of 2011 and number 30 of 2016, which were filed at the Environment and Land Court in Meru, by 330 and 50 petitioners respectively.

The group threatened to stage protests to State House in Nairobi if the matter is not expeditiously resolved.

In May 2015, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) reported that it had received more than 40 reports of corruption and unethical conduct in Isiolo.

The EACC said grabbing of public land, abuse of office, conflict of interest and embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds were among the complaints.