NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 27 – An association of residents in Lamu now wants the National Land Commission (NLC) to add 33 land allocations to the 22 they are already investigating on suspicion of being acquired illegally.
The Hindi Residents Welfare Association (HIRWA) tabled the 33 land registration numbers before the Muhammad Swazuri-led commission on Wednesday and through their lawyer George Wakahiu applied that they be allowed to present evidence on them this Thursday.
“We believe the 33 like the 22 parcels already under investigation by the commission were grabbed,” he said.
Wakahiu made the application following the appearance of Khalrala Ranch and Panda Nguo Boni Community before the commission; both forming part of the 22 entities under investigation for alleged land fraud.
Panda Nguo through their Imam Musa Samuno denied grabbing any land. “How can we have grabbed the land when we have lived there all our lives after inheriting the land from our forefathers?” Samuno posed to the commission.
The community was however unable to explain how they obtained the title to their 8,000 hectares of land putting it down to their viongozi (leaders).
“No. The land was never surveyed,” Samuno told Swazuri, “we don’t know how our leaders got us the title.”
Despite this anomaly, the community demanded another 28,000 hectares which they said housed what they referred to as the Boni or Kamwa forest.
A forest, they told the commission, they depended on in times of drought and to eke a living through bee keeping.
Alleging that the honey they produce is so good it can cure HIV/AIDS and that the flour ground from the Kamwa tree is what fleshed out their women.
“The government should get permission from us,” Samuno told Swazuri when he attempted to explain that forests were the property of the government.
Samuno went on to explain that the forest was best left in their care as they would ensure it was not cut down for agricultural purposes.
“Lamu is very dry as you know and we have been depending on this forest for sustenance and medicine, we are the best placed to preserve it,” he argued.
As for Khalrala, it emerged through lawyer Jillian Ndirangu that the ranch owner, one Abubakar Mohamed Swaleh, did not actually hold a title for the 5,000 hectare parcel whose allocation is under investigation.
Ndirangu told the commission that while Swaleh made the application for the parcel on August 30, 1984, he was yet to receive a title 30 years later “despite having been to the registry personally.”
“However on numerous occasions he has been informed that the file cannot be traced,” she said.
Ndirangu was however unable to explain why Khalrala had received two letters of allotment on May 27, 1996 and April 12, 2012 for a 45 and 99 year lease respectively.
She also claimed that her client had misplaced both their application for the lease grant and the proof of payment for the 1996 allotment.
Lamu Estates, which has been adversely mentioned during the proceedings, did not honour the commission’s invite on Wednesday leading Swazuri to threaten to “use any means necessary,” to get their information including collaborating with the Criminal Investigations Department.