The Kiptagich Tea Estate land acquired by retired President Daniel arap Moi in 1978 was never part of the Mau Forest Complex.
A source privy to the deal and who works at the Kiptagich factory but did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the factory clarified that Mr Moi did not use his position to allocate himself land in the Mau complex. At the time of the deal, he was Vice-President.
"This land was part of the trust land under Narok County Council and Mzee was allocated by the Maasai community to plant tea to stop people from encroaching on the forest; we have records on this," said the source.
He said the land and its environs was part of the expansive bamboo forest legally allocated by the council.
Minutes of the council meeting chaired by William ole Ntimama seen by the Nation confirm the council passed a resolution to allocate the land to Mr Moi.
The minutes show that Mr Moi made a formal request to the local authority. He was allocated about 2,333 acres at Kiptagich area, formerly called Ilpontol.
The minutes further show the land was then trust land in the Transmara forest block under the County Council of Narok.
Councillors Shadrack ole Rotiken and William ole Yiaile proposed and seconded the request by Mr Moi. In latter years, both councillors became chairmen of the civic body.
It is said Mr Moi made the land request through prominent Maasai leaders including Senior Chief Lerionka ole Ntutu, Mr Ntimama, who later became Narok North MP and served in Moi’s Cabinet, and ministers Stanley Oloitiptip and Justus ole Tipis.
The leaders flew over the forest with Moi to see where he would plant tea. But later, Mr Ntimama disowned the allocation, saying the council was arm-twisted to approve it.
Documents from the Narok Council indicate the Maasai Mau forest was gazetted as trust land in 1957. Mr Rotiken, the proposer in the 1978 council meeting that resolved to allocate Moi the land, defended the deal.
Contacted, the former county chairman said there was no arm-twisting or manipulation of any kind.
"Moi was given land on request and the allocation was legal and binding," he said on the phone.
He urged the government to respect the former President and let him enjoy his retirement in peace.
Mr Wilson Masikonde, who served as Olpusimoru Ward councillor for more than 25 years until 2017, also defended Mr Moi against claims that he used his influence to acquire the land.
"Mr Moi did not use his influence to acquire land in Mau. He was allocated the land by Narok County Council after he made a formal request. Mzee Moi is on record as saying the council regularly allocated the land to him," he said.
Mr Moi asked the government to approach the land issue with sobriety, after a task force included his farm in the Mau Forest land.
Mr Masikonde said that were it not for Moi’s idea to set up Nyayo Tea Zones around the Mau complex, the forest would have been encroached upon long ago and completely cleared.
A task force report listed Mr Moi as one of the big shots who should be evicted from the area.