Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri is among individuals allegedly involved in the grabbing of Kiambu forest land, a parliamentary committee heard yesterday.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko claimed yesterday that the legislator is among those illegally allocated a piece of the forest. Also implicated is former Limuru MP Kuria Kanyingi. Kanyingi died in 2014.
The CS had appeared before the Senate Security Committee over a petition concerning the murder of environmentalist Joannah Stutchbury and protection of environment and natural resources.
Mr Tobiko listed Agropack Limited, a company in which Mr Ngunjiri owns shares, among beneficiaries of the illegal excision of the forest land. The parcel hived off by the company was sub-divided into four plots.
Mr Ngunjiri’s company reportedly owns 14.5 hectares, which the CS said is forested with indigenous trees. Other Agropack directors are Samuel Ndegwa and Ruth Muthoni. Mr Kanyingi allegedly owns 24 hectares, which are divided into two, and partially developed.
Built residential apartments
Other beneficiaries are Kiambaa (Nyakinyua) women group (39.82 hectares) and M/S Pelican Engineering Company, whose director is Mr Maina Kamau (29.68 hectares).
The firm has already built residential apartments registered as Riverview Estate, while Wibeo Investments, whose director is Mr Bedan Mbugua, owns 25 hectares. About six hectares are owned by faceless individuals.
“You can see the names in the documents. I’m not making any insinuations, just dealing with facts,” Mr Tobiko said.
The CS said the areas owned by Pelican Engineering, Mr Kanyingi and Nyakinyua women group are almost fully developed with accompanying infrastructure.
“This wasn’t the case of lack of procedural issues; it was an outright illegality because the laws governing forests are there,” he said.
On the murder of Stutchbury, 64, the CS said the matter is under the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Kenya Forest Service.
“She was murdered while doing her job of protecting the environment not just for herself but even for our children,” Mr Tobiko said.
She had a pending case in the Environment and Land Court in Kiambu.
Kisumu Senator Fred Outa, who chaired the meeting, said the committee will table its report in the house before the end of the year.
“The culture of people grabbing public land must stop. Impunity must stop. Before the end of the year, we will come up with a report that will spell out measures of protecting individuals who protect our forests,” he said.
Mr Tobiko wants Parliament to consider categorising illegal or irregular acquisition of public gazetted forests as an economic crime.