NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 13 – Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has cautioned leaders against politicizing land grabbing in Kiambu Forest Reserve.
Speaking in a virtual meeting on Wednesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on security over the recent murder of environmentalist Joannah Stutchbury, Tobiko asked leaders for their support on the issue in calming tensions.
“I would hope and pray that we can count on you for support as Parliament and you shall keep politics out in this matter,” he said.
In response to the progress on the investigation into Stutchbury’s murder, the CS said his office has been working closely with the investigation agencies to get to the bottom of the matter.
Stutchbury was killed on July 16.
“The role of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is to identify who was responsible for such brutal murder and my ministry and the Kenya Forest Service have been working closely with the investogators to ensure no stone is left unturned to identify and bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime,” Tobiko said.
The 67-year-old, who was vocal about the conservation of Kiambu forest, was shot dead by unknown people near her home in an incident that angered Kenyans and caught the attention of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the international community.
Tobiko said authorities suspect that her death is linked to the grabbing of the Kiambu forest reserve.
The Environment CS admitted that nearly the whole of the reserve has been grabbed and substantial part of it settled upon in disregard of the law.
“This is a matter that has been a subject of several intervention initiatives including the Ndung’u Land Commission and also subsequent actions towards the recovery of the illegally acquired land,” he added.
The CS however, declined to release a list of names of people implicated in the Kiambu forest grabbing handed to him by the Kenya forest service.
“I don’t want to peddle names here before you or before the country until I have all the documentation that I need. I have to ensure I have the fullest complete dossier to proceed,” he said.
Dr. Paula Kahumbu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Wildlife Conservation Alliance Kenya who also spoke during the session, urged the government to revoke the grabbed parcel of Kiambu forest reserve.
She further asked the government to revisit the Hansard report and identify grabbed land in the area.
Kahumbu expressed concerns that conservationists were afraid of their lives adding that it was unlikely that anyone will come out with any information when perpetrators of the murder of Stutchbury have not been arrested
“What you are asking us to do is put our lives on the line. And I don’t want anybody to die trying to save the forest. I think it is urgent and important that this committee demand action from the security forces to uncover killers of Joannah and bring them to justice,” she added.