NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 26 – Allegations were levelled against Mombasa Tycoon, Tahir Sheikh Said, commonly known as TSS during the National Land Commission (NLC) public hearings on the half a million acres in Lamu whose ownership President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered investigated.
The Chairman of the Hindi Residents Welfare Association (HIRWA) Khuzema Mohamed accused TSS of duping the original inhabitants of the Amu Ranch in order to obtain the title to the land.
“Because of poverty, when TSS stepped onto Lamu, he told them that he could get them a deed but he would require 51 percent of the shares. And because he was in cahoots with the then Chairman of the County Council, it was approved and they did what they want according to their money,” he charged.
Amu Ranch, it is worth noting, was one of the properties set ablaze in Lamu at the height of the violence there in June and July. READ Police hunt for gunmen behind fresh Lamu raid
Mohamed then accused TSS’ son, of using fire power to keep what he referred to as the original inhabitants, off his land.
“Before the elections all the houses that were within the boundaries he established were pulled down and others were fired at to scare them off. The case was never taken to court. The police said it was a matter for the chief to deal with,” he testified.
Mohamed said those affected were unable to obtain reprieve from the local authorities either whom he accused of being in TSS’s ‘pocket’.
He went on to accuse TSS of bringing in other people who on obtaining land grants did not adhere to the conditions set out.
One Abubakar Mohamed Swaleh, nickname Al Redi, was also adversely mentioned during the hearings and was accused of grabbing the land on which Khalrala Ranch – under investigation by NLC – sits.
“There is a forest on the land that you cannot cross by foot, so it’s clear they did their surveys from the air, oblivious to the fact that there were people living on the land,” Gulia Hassan, a shareholder of the Mokowe Kibokoni Ranch – also being investigated – alleged.
And HIRWA provided photographs that included schools as proof of settlement prior to the 2011-12 allocations.
The directors of Khalrala Ranch were invited to appear before the NLC on Tuesday and put up a defence but did not turn up with the Directors of Amu Ranch having been invited on Thursday.
HIRWA and the shareholders of Mokowe Kibokoni Ranch also pointed fingers at each other with the ranch owners accusing the former of squatting on their land while HIRWA accused them of hastily erecting a Mosque to demonstrate occupancy when the Lamu land enquiry began in January.
The ranch holders however denied the accusation with their Secretary Kazungu Toyah saying they erected the Mosque and offices on receipt of payment from the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company for erecting power lines through their land. “We just didn’t have money before. We did not grab any land,” he stressed.
Both parties called on the NLC to hastily resolve the Lamu land question and bring an end to the conflict between Lamu communities over agricultural land.