, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 21 – One of the parcels of public land in Lamu whose lease is being investigated changed hands four times between 2012 and 2013, it emerged on Thursday.
The lease for the 40,140 acre parcel of land was originally granted to a Rusken International Limited – on a request from the then Commissioner of Lands – who then transferred it to a company called Rising Star Commodities less than a year later and who again transferred it just a few months later to Calyon Enterprises Limited.
And in that process the Director of Rising Star Commodities, Ali Punjani, for example made Sh400 million in the transfer of the 45 year old lease to Calyon.
Calyon’s legal representative Aisha Abdallah however had a difficult time pinpointing the exact dates of all the transfers owing to what she explained as, “a delay in obtaining the two consents of the land control board and District Land Officer.”
National Land Commission (NLC) Chairman Muhammad Swazuri later explained that, “when we give you the lease one of the conditions is the type of use which should be undertaken.”
His statement further called into question the speculative purposes for which the agricultural land appears to have been leased.
The Directors of Rusken did not however turn up to put up a defence at the commencement of the NLC’s public hearings on the half a million acres of Lamu land President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered investigated on July 31 and without apology, “they just didn’t turn up despite telling us, as late as this morning that they would,” Swazuri said.
The Rusken Directors having been identified as Husein Hamid and Farouk Hamid.
Calyon itself expressed surprise at Rusken’s no show, “Somebody within the clients company spoke to Rusken on Monday, they indicated they were attending… we were very much expecting to find them here,” Abdallah relayed.
While it was unclear what the exact nature of Rusken and Calyon is, that between Rising Star and Calyon was social, Abdallah said.
“The Directors of Rising Star and the Directors of Calyon are based in Mombasa from the same community and they met socially and this is when the idea of the sale from Rising Star to Calyon was discussed and agreed upon informally and then it was formalised,” she communicated. The Directors of Calyon being identified as Nazlin Amin Mohamed Nathoo and Alisha Amin Nathoo.
Despite the discrepancies in transfer, Calyon questioned the motive of the enquiry into their land given the LAPPSET corridor did not cut through it and it was, “nowhere near,” Abdallah said, the proposed site for the Lamu port.
A location, she argued, that proved they did not purchase the land for speculative purposes and were looking to grow sugarcane after having attracted interest from foreign investors that included the Omani royal family and after obtaining funding from Diamond Trust Bank to the tune of Sh883 million.