Nyong'o: Why I will not identify Kisumu land grabbers

Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang Nyong'o.

Kisumu Governor Peter Anyang' Nyong'o has maintained that he will not reveal the identity of land grabbers in the county, saying he wants to avoid court cases that could hamper his efforts to recover the parcels.

The governor believes that by concealing the names from the public, he can quietly but effectively recover the stolen land.

The governor has been under pressure to reveal the identities of the land grabbers after he wrote a letter to the National Land Commission detailing thousands of acres of land allegedly acquired illegally by prominent people.

His sentiments also come years after he and ex-governor Jack Ranguma formed task forces to carry out land audits in the county. Three resulting reports have never been made public.

The local government has maintained its silence even as many parcels, institutional houses and public property remain under threat of being grabbed.

Efforts by City Manager Abala Wanga to reclaim them have also been hindered by numerous court cases filed by developers who are fighting back.

This is why the governor is claiming his main aim for withholding such critical information from the public is to avoid legal hurdles.

Keeping the names out of the public domain, he said, will ease the process of reclaiming the lands, which were grabbed decades ago.

"If we make the report public, people will start moving to court to delay and derail this process of land recovery. We have resorted together with the bodies assisting the county government to attack silently when the responsible people least expect us,” said Prof Nyong’o.

The governor was speaking when one of the grabbed parcels was being repossessed at the county offices yesterday.

He led the National Land Commission, Assets Recovery Authority, and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in recovering 1.5 acres of prime land valued at Sh500 million.

This public utility land had been grabbed. The title deed for the land – Kisumu Municipality Bloc 7/240 – was handed to him at the State House in Nairobi as one of the illegally acquired lands across the country.

The title deed was surrendered by a former councillor in the municipal government, Mr Naresh Patel, who claimed to have bought the land from a cartel unknowingly.

The governor said the title deed is among 39 others for parcels valued at Sh5.2 billion, with the others yet to be recovered.

"We are looking forward to recovering more parcels of land in the near future and not an inch of acre will be lost," said Prof Nyong’o.

Meanwhile, the Kisumu County government has extended an amnesty to individuals who illegally acquired public land to surrender them.

The governor has urged members of the public in possession of the remaining pieces to give them back.

"I want to appeal to those holding titles for public land to surrender before we go for them," he said.

While Kisumu County is striving to change its face, including planning for green spaces, it is grappling with scarcity of land that could be developed.

Governor Anyang Nyong’o’s headache now lies with land grabbers, land owners and litigation on property pitting the county government and national government on one side and various parties on the other, a matter that has stalled major development projects in Kisumu.

In a previous meeting, Prof Nyong’o said that the irregular acquisition of land by the ruling class is still prevalent in Kisumu.

Public spaces meant for schools, hospitals, roads and other public projects are prone to land grabbing by the city bourgeoisie and those in power through brokers and cartels.

Some 25 markets whose portions have been grabbed include Obunga Papa Mbuta, Nyawita, Kasarani, Wholesale, Ojino Okew, Nyamlori, Kondele open air, Kosawo, Flamingo, Kilo, Manyatta Peace, Ojolla, Kisian Ochaya, Kiboswa, Dago, Kombedo, Riat, Otonglo, Gita, Chiga, Ongwano, Nyamasaria, Kowino, Koyango, and Angola.

At least 120 individuals and companies, including prominent persons and land brokers, have been accused of grabbing land from institutional houses, pathways, markets and industrial parks in Kisumu.

Out of these, 24 are in court and involve the county government and various companies.

A confidential report seen by the Nation revealed that the offices now occupied by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), as well as a plot owned by the Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company, were also illegally acquired.