Politicians own huge chunks of Ngong Forest (Nairobi County)

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[Source: Daily Nation, by Pauline Kairu]

High-ranking politicians, top Lands ministry officials and prominent business personalities are some of the beneficiaries who could lose land that the government now says was illegally hived off Ngong Forest.

The forest is virtually gone, having been grabbed systematically over the last nine decades. Data from the Kenya Forest Service shows that out of the 7,231.6 acres proclaimed at gazettement in 1932, only 1330.39 acres of woodland is left today.

Former politician-turned business personalities including former Kiambaa MP Stanley Munga Githunguri, former Konoin MP Samuel Koech and current Bahati MP Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri are some of the politicians mentioned in a list released by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry on Friday as having benefitted from the irregular allocations of the undegazetted forest land.

Mr Koech was most probably the biggest individual beneficiary, with an allocation of 132 acres in 1998. Most of this land has since been sold off to other buyers over the years.

Mr Ngunjiri is said to hold 18.24 acres of the forest land and Mr Githunguri 9.24 acres allocated in 1978.

A former board member of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Maj Gen Njoroge is also a holder of the purported titles of land appropriated from the forest’s land.

Others named on the list are Emos Muyaa, Jane Nduku, Peter M, M.K Melil, James Mureithi, M.G.L. Aluoch, P. Kamuithi, L. Yatich, Zipporah Wangithi, D.M. Marindamy, S. Bundotich, Dr.Baksh, J.Sigei, J.N Mauki and D.M Kimoro.

Other allottees are hidden under shadowy company names, including some whose names have only been revealed due to ongoing legal battles over the sale of the questionably acquired land.

These include Ankhan Holdings – a company associated with Jonathan Moi, Sammy Boit Kogo and Hubert Nyambu Mwakibwa, which received 1,000 acres in 1992. The ownership of Ankhan Holdings was only revealed through court proceedings and documents used to give the firm ownership of the land. The land, which was later sold to the National Social Security Fund, has been at the centre of a court battle after the Kenya Forest Service made advances to repossess it.

Most of the land, according to an official from the Kenya forest Service, has since changed hands by being sold to unsuspecting members of the public, including civil servants and military officers in an intricate web of land sales that includes local and foreign buyers.

The Kenya Pipeline Company, which allegedly purchased land there from Deputy President William Ruto and former President Daniel Arap Moi’s personal assistant Joshua Kulei, is still pursuing justice for the investment that now hangs in the air.

The government has said it plans to revoke all documents issued after the 1978 legal notice.

[Full article: Daily Nation, by Pauline Kairu]


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