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Villagers demand pay for land taken 30 years ago

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By DERICK LUVEGA
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People who gave out their 30-acre piece of land in 1985 for the construction of government offices and other facilities in Mbale town, Vihiga County are now demanding compensation.

The villagers say they were relocated to a 40-acre Musinji-Shaviringa settlement scheme, which is still technically a forest reserve under the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and located 24 kilometres from Mbale town, but were not given title deeds.

On Tuesday, they petitioned the National Land Commission (NLC) and the county government seeking for compensation and award of title deeds.

On the land in Mbale town presently are the headquarters of national and county government offices.

The building houses the county commissioner, the governor, various county and national government offices as well as county police administration offices.

Also built on the land is Vihiga County Referral Hospital, Mbale Rural Hospital, Kenya Medical Training College, the prison, municipal offices, municipal market, the parking lot and several government houses.

The Nation established that the operations of the technical committee formed in 2015 to spearhead the process of degazetting the forest reserve and settlement of the people had stalled due to lack of funding.

The committee needed Sh10 million but only Sh3.2 million was released by the National Treasury, according to a member.

Membership of the technical team included county surveyor David Kombori, lands registrar Kalori Okwaro and the secretary to the county lands management commission, Ms Belinda Akelo.

Others were a forester with the KFS, Mr William Cheptoo, and the county physical planner-cum-municipal manager, Mr Duncan Kuria.

Records at the county commissioner’s office shows that the affected people are 300 in number.

In their petition seen by Nation, they are demanding that the government should honour the relocation agreement by giving them title deeds for the land parcels in Shaviringa to spare them the sufferings they are undergoing.

Led by Mr Fredrick Egunza who signed the three-page petition, they said delays in honouring the agreement have subjected them to a historical injustice.

The petition was taken to the local NLC offices, the lands registrar’s office and Governor Wilber Ottichilo.

“In 1985, Maragolis who comprise of approximately 60 to 80 families were moved from areas covering Mbale and Kegoye to make room for the construction of the present day Vihiga County headquarters and other government facilities,” said Mr Egunza.

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“All these Kenyans were moved to Tiriki location which previously formed part of Kakamega forest reserve. Each family was promised twice the land they occupied in Mbale.”

NO TITLE DEEDS
The masses now fear that the promise to degazzette the forest reserve and issue them with title deeds is yet to be implemented 34 years later. In 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta gave a directive on the matter but this is yet to be implemented, about four years later.

“We are now being treated as squatters in our own country. Our Maragoli traditions – such as circumcision – are completely different from the Tiriki traditions. At one time, these differences nearly led to a conflict with the Tiriki demanding that we forego our tradition in favour of theirs,” Mr Egunza said.

They lament that forest officers have subjected them to harassment, accusing them of encroaching on the forest reserve.

They further complained that they have had to lose their property as government officials watch.

Mr Egunza said that staff from Kenya Power stormed their farms and cut down their trees in 2015 for use as electricity poles but refused to compensate them on grounds that the land belongs to a forest reserve.

They fear they could be evicted for lack of title deeds and now want issuance of the same expedited.

The county physical planner and a member of the relocation technical committee, Mr Duncan Kuria, said it could take long before the affected people are finally issued with title deeds.

Mr Kuria told Nation that lack of funds has stalled operations of his committee and that they can only resume in September once funds are available.

“Treasury gave us Sh3.2 million but failed to release the remaining funds from a budget of Sh10 million making the process stall at the survey level. The process of degazetting the forest reserve and giving out title deeds was a presidential directive issued in 2014 and the process begun in 2015,” said Mr Kuria.

“I have briefed the current governor (Dr Ottichilo) about it and he has offered to have funds included in the 2019/2020 budget to re-start the process. Operations of the technical committee may start again in September,” he added.

The then county commissioner, Mr Boaz Cherotich, had assured the affected people that the process would be expedited and called on the families to cooperate with the technical team.

He is currently in Nyandarua County.

The settlement scheme sits on government land that comprises Kibiri Forest.



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General

Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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