The family of the late colonial chief Wambugu Mathangani is demanding Sh1.4 billion as compensation for a 135-acre piece of land occupied by the Nyeri County Government.
Led by his estate’s trustees, the family caused a stir at the Wambugu Agricultural Training Institute on the outskirts of Nyeri Town when they locked up the two gates leading to the institution.
They have threatened to repossess the land by ejecting county employees from their offices and inviting a surveyor to sub-divide it.
Mr Peter Wachira — one of the trustees — said the family is also demanding Sh3 million rent arrears since 2007 when the government acquired the land.
“The government took over our land forcibly and has not compensated us. They also owe us rent which they have not paid for the last 10 years,” he said.
According to Mr James Wanyaga, family representatives have visited the National Land Commission (NLC) countless times demanding revaluation of the land.
“We want any development on the land to stop because we still own it. The governor should look for alternative offices for his officers before we take back our land,” he said.
The family has given the county government and the NLC a one-week ultimatum.
Mr Wanyaga, a former mayor, said his grandfather had leased the land to the defunct Nyeri municipality, which expired in 2006.
The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, acquired the land in 2007 through compulsory acquisition.
The family argues that the Sh146 million paid by the government was too little, noting that the government offices are sitting on prime land that currently fetches Sh12 million per acre.
In 2015, the Environment and Lands Court ruled that only 35 households of the late chief are entitled to the Sh146 million.
However, the family appealed, claiming the amount was far below the market price.