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Kwale residents protest land grabbing

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[Reverend Fredrick Kanato Ndaikwa of the East Africa Pentecostal Church (EAPC) Samburu Parish leading the residents in praying for their ancestral land. Photo/Ahmed Omar/Nov’ 19, 2022].

Residents of Maji ya Chumvi land adjudication section in Chengoni ward, Kinango, Kwale County have called on President William Ruto to intervene on a land tussle pitting the community and private developers.

The residents want the president to intervene and stop any activity on the disputed parcel of land measuring 60,000 acres saying it belongs to the community.

According to the residents it is an ancestral land that the community has owned even before the First World War broke out.

Led by reverend Fredrick Kanato Ndaikwa of the East Africa Pentecostal Church (EAPC) Samburu Parish, they have accused a section of local leaders working in cohort with officials from the lands ministry to allocate land to cartels.

Addressing the media in Deri village after holding prayers for the land, Kanato said that since the land was declared an adjudication section in 2014, cartels have been eying to take it away from the residents.

“We surprisingly realized that the cartels had already begun subdividing parts of the land in 2017 without our knowledge. We raised the matter but nothing much has come of it,” said Kanato.

The residents appealed to the President to intervene on the matter and ensure that the 1,480 families living in the area get justice.

Parliament

Kanato said that they took the matter to the former Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari who raised it in the 12th Parliament.

He said parliament scheduled a visit to the area and even wrote to the then Lands CS Farida Karoney to investigate the matter.

But a planned visit by the parliamentary committee on Lands to the area failed to happen after chaos broke out on the day of the visit.

He said that the land was illegally adjudicated, reducing the land owned by the community and allocating more to people from outside.

About 500 title deeds are set to be released which the residents have disputed saying that they were not involved in the process as a matter already in court adding that the titles do not reflect the exact acres on the ground.

“We are calling on the government to stop any activity of adjudicating the land until the dispute is resolved, any title issued should be revoked with immediate effect,” said Kanato.

They have already petitioned the government to stop the issuance of the title deeds as they want the subdivision and allocation of the land to be done afresh.

[Reverend Fredrick Kanato Ndaikwa of the East Africa Pentecostal Church (EAPC) Samburu Parish showing some of the documents on the disputed parcel of land. Photo/Ahmed Omar/Nov’ 19, 2022].

Nyota Mgandi 59, an elder of the Mwamundu Kichororo clan also appealed to the President to intervene on the matter insisting that justice must be done to the community.

He insisted that as a community, every family knows the boundary to their land and as such would not allow anyone to shortchange them.

The lands ministry and the National Lands Commission had previously revoked 70 title deeds that were fraudulently acquired in the area.

This was after an audit chaired by the Coast regional commissioner John Elungata showed that some parcels of land exchanged hands fraudulently through illegal allocations.