Government officials who sold Mau land to be arrested – Environment CS

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[Source: The Standard, by Moses Nyamori]

Senior Government officials, politicians and ranch owners who hived off land in Mau Forest and sold it to locals now face arrest and prosecution.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko yesterday revealed that Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti had completed investigations into the encroachment of about 14,000 hectares in the Mau Complex by well-connected individuals.

Mr Kinoti has forwarded the files to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji for action, signalling arrests could be looming amid the ongoing emotive evictions.

Tobiko described those involved in the encroachment as “big fish”, stating that they were the same people behind the push to compensate the affected families.

He spoke when he issued a statement in Parliament that the evictions are unstoppable and have to be done “now or never”, adding that they have been sanctioned by the Government.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen had earlier claimed that the evictions had not been approved by the Cabinet, but were being pushed by Tobiko.

The “big fish” sold part of the gazetted water catchment area to nearly 7,000 individuals, according to documents tabled yesterday before the National Assembly’s Environment Committee chaired by Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki.

The Cabinet secretary also advised individuals who purchased land in the forest to provide particulars of the individuals who sold them the land for legal action to be taken.

He further clarified that none of the affected families would be compensated because they  acquired their title deeds illegally.

MPs Hillary Koskei (Kipkelion West) and Charity Kathambi (Njoro) said Tobiko had no powers to declare that a Government-issued document was null and void, before demanding that due process be followed.

The lawmakers argued that only the courts can invalidate title deeds.

But Tobiko was adamant that the nearly 16,000 individuals targeted for evictions must leave the protected area as they acquired the parcels illegally.

The Environment CS also said that 15 schools affected by the evictions were not recognised by the Ministry of Education.

He said the schools lacked land ownership documents required for registration. The learning institutions also did not have staff posted by the Teachers Service Commission.

[Full article: The Standard, by Moses Nyamori]


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