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Environment and Forestry CS Keriako Tobiko/FILE

Kenya

House summons Tobiko over planned Ngong Forest evictions

NAIROBI, Kenya June 30 – Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has been invited to appear before the National Assembly Environment Committee on Monday, July 6, over the controversial planned eviction of residents living on a now disputed piece of land in Ngong Forest.

Committee Chairperson Kareke Mbiuki (Maara MP) Tuesday said the committee is keen to seek answers from Tobiko whom the lawmakers have accused of being insensitive in the handling of the matter particularly after he threatened to ship wild animals in the area to chase away the residents.

“The issues of Ngong forest are extremely very emotive baring in mind that its just the other day that we had a similar incident in the Mau forest,” he said during an appearance in Parliament.

The Ngong Forest debate that has ignited fury from valid land owners whom now risk being stripped of their life’s worth savings and investment found its way in Parliament after Langata MP Nixon Korir petitioned the House over the matter.

In the petition signed by 74 Sun Valley Phase II and III residents who now risk being rendered homeless, Korir demanded the Kenya Forestry Service stops harassing and causing unnecessary panic and anxiety to those targeted.

Other flagged estates earmarked for demolition include: KMA Lang’ata estate, Lang’ata Place, Lang’ata View Apartments, Royal Park, Forest View, Shalom estate and St Mary’s Apartment.

“We wish to indicate that the Ministry of Environment and Kenya Forest Service have not filed a suit in any court to challenge gazette notice 44 of 1998 which altered the boundaries of the forest which in any event was published by that very ministry,” reads part of the petition.

Korir said the planned demolitions could render close to 6, 000 households with over twenty thousand people homeless.

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“We have paid duties, taxes and levies to the government for approval of various activities related to our suit papers. The county government of Nairobi has continuously received land rates for our respective parcels which we have paid dutifully,” the legislator said.

The first-time lawmaker, in the petition, faulted Tobiko for ignoring the laid down legal procedures to initiate evictions and wondered why he has not taken steps to challenge the validity of the title deeds held by those targeted for evictions.

House Minority Leader John Mbadi threatened to lead a censure motion against Tobiko over his conduct in handling the matter.

“We do not want anarchy in this country and Tobiko is behaving badly yet I thought he was a very good gentleman. The way he talks is like he is a terrorist threatening people that he will send wild animals to them,” he said.

Minority Whip Junet Mohammed said the petition should be taken seriously owing to the loss of property and livelihoods that will follow if the government moves on with its plan.

Junet faulted CS Tobiko for making road side declarations considering the seriousness of the matter.

“Tobiko should not proceed with the evictions. Let the matter be investigated, let the report be tabled before the House whichever the way the House decides we will abide by the decision,” he said.

Igembe Central MP Kubai Kiringo said CS Tobiko should not be in haste to demolish homes of those targeted insisting that he should first let the process of the rule of law take its course.

“The people of Langata should be left in peace and the committee should start working and the Cabinet Secretary should before them hold his horses,” he said.

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Tobiko has been categorical that a huge part of the Ngong Forest had been grabbed by unnamed powerful government officials using various proxies and entities.

He said once repossessed, the land will form part of the Nairobi National Park.

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