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Counties

Ex-MP Criticos stakes claim on historic World War One site

Former Taveta MP Basil Criticos. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Former Taveta MP Basil Criticos has stood his ground over the ownership of the iconic Salaita Hill that he fenced off last year.

Mr Criticos said he owned the piece of land and accused local politicians of inciting the public against him.

“The land has been ours since the ‘70s. Those accusing me should report to the relevant government departments or sue me instead of inciting the people against me,” he said.

The former MP said he was the legal owner of the hill that the National Museums of Kenya declared a national monument in 2015.

The hill was the epicentre of the battle between British and German soldiers during World War One.

Governor Granton Samboja and other leaders accused Mr Criticos of grabbing the land.

The governor had vowed to lead residents to pull down the electric fence if the Ministry of Land failed to address the issue.

However, Mr Criticos, who also owns a vast tract of land in the area, told off the governor over his remarks he made last weekend.

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He said he would hold Mr Samboja responsible should anything happen to him or his property.

He defended the move to fence off the area, saying trespassers had invaded the monument and stole some artefacts.

Mr Criticos said there was a need to protect the area from encroachment. He said some residents neighbouring the hill had started putting up permanent buildings on the piece of land.

“I forcefully evicted the squatters who had started settling here to safeguard the hill. Is this wrong?” posed Mr Criticos.

Last year, a delegation that had visited the site was denied access to the hill.

British High Commissioner Nick Hailey and his German counterpart Annette Gunter were among the delegates.

The had gone to the hill as part of the centenary celebrations to mark the end of World War One.

Mr Criticos said he had not barred the public from the site.

“The event was planned for months without involving me.

“In 2014, the same event was held on my piece of land but no one bothered to inform me about it,” he said.

The ex-MP said he had a right to preserve the land and maintain it according to the law.

“I have a responsibility to protect and preserve this national monument for future generations. This is a national monument and not just a local one,” he said.



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