NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – The 22 companies whose titles to half a million acres of land in Lamu are under scrutiny will have an opportunity to defend themselves beginning Thursday.
National Land Commission (NLC) Chief Executive Officer Tom Chavangi told Capital FM News on Tuesday that the company directors would be taken through a quasi-judicial process, “so that Kenyans can know what lies beneath the ownership of this land.”
He said the commissioners would take the directors through “an intense process,” of authenticating their proof of ownership documents which they had been invited to submit to the NLC beginning August 18.
“We put a public notice two weeks ago inviting the 22 owners of the ranches to appear before the commission on specific dates starting Thursday so we can interrogate the documentation to find out if indeed the land was legally acquired or not so that as a result of that interrogation, the commission can make a determination,” Chavangi explained.
Section 14 of the National Land Commission Act, he said, bestowed those powers on the NLC.
The hearings, Chavangi said, would be open to the public and would either be held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) or their Ardhi House offices for about a fortnight.
And on the basis of which, he continued, the commission would decide whether or not to write to the Chief Lands Registrar for the revocation of the titles.
“If it’s an illegal property we revoke. If it’s an irregular acquisition the law allows us to regularise that acquisition but there are some conditions that need to be met before regularisation is done,” he said.
Chavangi declined to comment on the 14 companies whose records cannot be traced explaining that it would amount to “pre-empting,” the quasi-judicial hearing.
The directors had also been summoned by the Criminal Investigations Department to record statements.
When President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the NLC together with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ministry of Lands to co-ordinate efforts in establishing the facts behind the land acquisition, their irregular acquisition had appeared to be a foregone conclusion.
“I directed the Cabinet Secretary for Lands to carry out a comprehensive audit of land allocations in Lamu County. This audit is now complete and has revealed shocking details. We have established that between 2011 and 2012, on the eve of our General Elections, almost 500,000 acres of public land, which is approximately 70 percent of land within Lamu county available for settlement and other productive purposes was alienated under dubious and corrupt circumstances,” President Kenyatta said in a live broadcast on July 31 before directing, “the Cabinet Secretary for Lands and the National Land Commission to revoke and repossess these land parcels with immediate effect.”