Unmasking Mlolongo Brothers: How Syokimau Land Con Was Hatched

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Unmasking Mlolongo Brothers: How Syokimau Land Con Was Hatched

Unmasking Mlolongo Brothers: How Syokimau Land Con Was HatchedSome time in the year 2000, a group of well-connected politicians and senior civil servants held a meeting at a club house in Athi River to discuss a sensitive matter.

The subject of the single-agenda meeting was a huge tract of idle land within the municipality and how to acquire it.

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Part of the land was registered to the Kenya Airports Authority. The three other parcels measuring hundreds of acres were registered to three individuals. The titles indicated that the land was intended for quarrying.

The meeting at the club house was attended by a mayor, a town clerk, councillors, government surveyors and officials from the ministry of Lands. It ended well, and the targeted land was clearly indicated.

Three days after the meeting, in what appeared to be a well-orchestrated move, a group of hired men descended on the land with all manner of weapons, and using string and rope, they began to sub-divide it.

As this was going on an amorphous self-help group emerged within the municipality and began selling land, collecting money and handing out “allotment letters” and receipts bearing the name Mavoko Municipality Self-Help Group. Those who bought land were advised to put up structures as fast as they could.

Many of the original allottees sold their plots as soon as they acquired their letters. Many of those who put up structures were either third-, fourth-, or fifth-generation buyers.

The buyers did not doubt the authenticity of the documents in their possession as everything appeared to be above board with the alleged participation of officials from the Mavoko Municipal Council.

The first signs of trouble came many months later when the government started expanding the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. Several buildings built on road reserves were pulled down.

The land “owners”, some of them top civil servants, held meetings and sent a delegation to State House to obtain intervention to spare them the agony.

Their pleas were ignored, and one by one the structures were brought down, leaving them counting millions in losses.

That is how the Mlolongo Trading Centre was born. As the Mlolongo land rush proceeded, three other groups had their eyes fixed on yet another huge parcel bordering the Kenya Airports Authority land.

The groups — the Mlolongo Brothers Association, Jumbo and Uungana – targeted 1,000 acres of land.

In a move that involved senior officials in the ministry of Lands in Machakos and Nairobi, allotment letters were issued within a record time to the three groups.

In 2006, the Mlolongo Brothers Association applied to be allowed to sub-divide the land into quarter-and one-eighth-acre plots.

They were allowed to do this by the Mavoko Municipal Council via a letter signed by the Town Clerk, Mr Tubman Otieno, who is now the Town Clerk in Mombasa.

Mr Otieno’s letter dated May 10, 2006 saw Mlolongo Brothers pay Sh13,000 for the sub-division.

The request was taken to the Machakos Chief Land Administrative Officer Mr J. M. Ndavi, who approved the same in a letter dated November 14, 2007.

Armed with the letter, Mlolongo Brothers used all manner of advertisements in the media and on billboards placed in strategic places inviting people to purchase land.

The response was fast, and within a short time, the Syokimau area was a beehive of activity as people bought land and put up homes. A middle-class residential estate was born.

But last week the government, through the Commissioner of Lands Mr Zablon Mabea, termed as irregular all allocations in Syokimau area where hundreds of houses have been demolished.

“The title deeds, letters of allotments and the gazette notice given by these groups to justify their claim on the land are all fake,” Mr Mabea told a joint parliamentary committee investigating demolitions in Syokimau and other residential areas in the city bordering airports.

But one of the founder members of the Mlolongo Brothers Association, Mr Peter Mbiti, says they followed all proper procedures in acquiring the land.

Mr Mbiti said officials in the Ministry of Lands who have all along been aware of the goings-on in Mlolongo and Syokimau were being economical with the truth.

“The government cannot dismiss what is genuine; the allotment was listed in the official Kenya Gazette, and we are not afraid to show these documents to any one who cares,” said Mr Mbiti, who is currently a councillor representing Mlolongo/Syokimau ward.

He denies claims that his group duped the public into purchasing land that did not belong to them.

“From the official government records Mlolongo Brothers were allocated some 300 acres; Jumbo got about 266 and Uungana were given some 400 acres,” he said.

But despite having allegedly acquired the controversial parcels way back in 2002, Mlolongo Brothers appear to have chosen this year to legalise their hold on the parcels.

According to documents seen by the Sunday Nation, their application for the letter of allotment was dated January 21, 2011, and stamped on September 9, 2011. A search at the Ministry of Lands confirmed the deed plan.

On August 26 this year they applied for sub-division of the land, and a grant was given on September 9, 2011 in a letter purported to have been signed by the Chief Land Registrar,Mr E. N. Gichecha.

An advocate of the High Court, Mr Runo Kariuki, is alleged to have witnessed the transaction.

Mr Mbiti says once they fulfilled the conditions they were given the land on a 99-year lease with a standing premium of Sh 4million and an annual rent of Sh100,000 for the parcels.

The lease period covers 100 acres of land. However, queries were raised on the whereabouts of the 200-acre parcel land originally given.

A Mr E.M Kiarie for the Commissioner of Lands allegedly signed the lease letter.

Source- http://www.nation.co.ke
 

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