Secrets of Danish national accused of ‘armed occupation’ - Daily Nation

Secrets of Danish national accused of ‘armed occupation’

Saturday February 23 2013

Former Gichugu MP Martha Karua had in March 2011 requested the Internal Security minister to order the removal of the Administration Police from the Nguruman property, but the ministry denied any presence of the officer’s saying they had only gone to quell skirmishes. Photo/FILE.

Former Gichugu MP Martha Karua had in March 2011 requested the Internal Security minister to order the removal of the Administration Police from the Nguruman property, but the ministry denied any presence of the officer’s saying they had only gone to quell skirmishes. Photo/FILE. NATION

By MUGUMO MUNENE [email protected]

A Narok-based group ranch near the Maasai Mara reserve has appealed to the new Inspector-General of Police to disarm two Danes the group says have illegally occupied part of their ranch at the behest of powerful Kenyan politicians and former MPs.

Mr Jan Bonde Nielsen and his son Peter Bonde Nielsen are accused in a court case of armed occupation of part of the 67,000-acre ranch in Narok South where they have been operating an exclusive resort patronised by high-end clients.

Nguruman Ltd , frustrated at the snail’s pace of the case, wrote to David Kimaiyo after he took up his new job last December.

A trail of documents seen by the Sunday Nation shows that Mr Nielsen has trained at least 64 rangers in “musketry and other manoeuvres” ostensibly for wildlife conservation on a farm that does not belong to him.

The Dane has a history of run-ins with authorities in Europe over alleged fraud that stretches back to the 1970s and has once been declared bankrupt.

Kenya police have been investigating Mr Nielsen since 2005 for illicit activities ranging from illegal possession of firearms to game sporting, human trafficking, illegal export of live wildlife, drug cultivation “and other irregular activities” but have taken no action against him to date.

The accusations against Mr Nielsen were publicised in Parliament in March 2011 by then Gichugu MP Martha Karua, but the House ran its full term before the matter could be resolved.  

Documents show that Parliament has been variously told that Mr Nielsen and his employees operate between 29 and 70 firearms under his Ol Donyo Laro Estate Ltd.

In light of the trail of documents about Mr Nielsen, it is not clear what kind of background checks the police did before issuing him with firearm licences; the process that is normally strictly controled.

Nguruman Ltd has written at least six letters to police authorities seeking the removal of the firearms from the property.

Former Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere had ordered an investigation into the matter culminating in a recommendation for immediate disarmament, but this never happened.

“We have knocked on every door in this country, and no one has come to our rescue about the armed occupation of our land. We want the firearms removed from our property,” Nguruman chairman Moses Ololouaya told the Sunday Nation last week.

In one of the many letters to the government, Nguruman accuses a top politician of frustrating efforts by the police to disarm the private army.

Documents show that the politician, his aides and a number of MPs have patronised the lodge.

Mr Kimaiyo told the Sunday Nation that the ranch controversy was one of the matters he had received from Mr Iteere at handover and that his officers were investigating it.

“I have the letter on my desk. It’s a long standing matter that even my predecessor handled and our officers are investigating it,” Mr Kimaiyo said.

He did not elaborate on the nature of investigations or when he expects a report, and neither did he comment on a complaint by Nguruman that the firearms on the farm had raised issues of national security concerns.

The Nielsens style themselves as wildlife conservationists, but Nguruman directors accuse them of armed occupation of their land and using firearms to intimidate the owners of the land, and applying for firearm licences for use on the farm without the registered owners’ permission; matters that have simmered through the security systems, the courts and Parliament for years without resolution.

When the matter was brought up in Parliament, the government seemed unperturbed about the activities of a man with a previous record as an outlaw and acknowledged that there were 29 firearms and a barracks on the ranch.

Ms Karua accused MPs she did not name of frustrating efforts to address the matter because they were frequent visitors at the lodge.

The Sunday Nation has seen travel itineraries naming some of the MPs but which we cannot publish for legal reasons.

Mr Ololouaya complains that Mr Jan Bonde Nielsen commands “extraordinary power” with the help of top government officials.

He says he has long behaved as if he had the police at his beck and call, and yet he does not own the land on which he operates.

Private home

Documents in our possession show that the senior Bonde Nielsen came to Nguruman and was offered an arrangement where he would manage Oldonyo Laro lodge, a private home, and in return maintain the area around the premises.

In an interview with the Robb Report, an American magazine targeting affluent readers, the younger Nielsen lays claim to part ownership of the property.

The ownership dispute is now before the courts.

The agreement between Nguruman and Mr Nielsen started falling apart around 2009 resulting in at least seven law suits which are at various stages in the courts.

Nguruman says that the Nielsens have claimed ownership of a property that sits on a piece of land that they (Nguruman) have owned since 1986, which forms the basis of the trespass and other disputes up for determination by the courts.

In March 2011, Ms Karua requested the Internal Security minister to order the removal of the APs from the property.

Then Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojode said the ministry was not aware that APs were on the property.

Mr Ojode told Parliament that APs had only gone to keep peace following a report that a group of youth had invaded the Ol Donyo Laro airstrip, which is part of the Nguruman property but which is now run by the Nielsens.

Ms Karua protested that the airstrip was in use “even by members of this House” despite a court order barring its usage at the time.