Showdown looms as Ngilu allocates land to Nubians

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Kenya: Another row is simmering between Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu and the National Land Commission over a controversial decision to allocate close to 300 acres of public land to a private organisation in Kibera slums, Nairobi.

The commission says it did not approve the allocation of 117 hectares of land to a group calling itself Trustees of Kibera Nubian Community and set to last 99 years.

Only a week after Ngilu publicly took on National Land Commission chair Mohammed Swazuri, it has emerged the ministry has allocated the land in a move that promises to reignite the turf wars between a ministry and an independent commission.

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Swazuri said he was not aware of the lease and he has not seen it.

“I have asked my officers to give me a copy and as far as I am concerned, it is my commission that is mandated by the law to allocate public land for both county and national government. We have not done so in the case of Kibera,” he said on phone.

This could also ignite violence among residents of the biggest slum in the region if the new owners decide to make use of it and evict those deemed tenants.

According to the letter of allotment dated July 30, the community will pay an annual rent of Sh72.

Such an allocation means the organisation would oversee almost half of Kibera slums, the region’s biggest informal settlement. A Mr PK Kahuho signed the letter of allotment for the Commissioner of Lands.

The geographical area of Kibera slums is estimated at about 700 acres, which the Nubian community through the Nubian Council of Elders have been laying claim to as ancestral land.

Former Lands Commissioner and now Lands Secretary Zablon Mabeya said the Trustees of KiberaNubian Community, will hold the title as representatives of the council of elders.

The community had been demanding they be allocated the entire Kibera slums on claims they were given the land by the colonial masters.

Other officials at the NLC said the move goes against the Transition to Devolved Government Act, which has put a moratorium on transfer of assets during the transition period.

Section 35 of the Act says a state organ, public office, public entity or local authority shall not transfer assets and liabilities during the transition period.

If there is such a move, Transitional Authority, National Treasury, Commission of Revenue Allocation, Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Lands have to be involved.

Surveyors from the ministry have since Monday been visiting the targeted area for their work.

Ironically, the position of Commissioner of Lands was scrapped with the coming in of the NLC in March 2013.

Again, the ministry failed to notify the NLC of the allocation, in spite the constitutional mandate it is assigned to manage both public and community lands.

When contacted on Thursday, Mr Mabeya defended the allotment saying Ngilu was right to issue the letters.

“There is nothing unprocedural in the allotment letter since the Cabinet Secretary had told even parliament of the plans to give the Nubian community titles for the land they have claimed as ancestral land,” Mabea added.

When asked why they had not involved NLC, Mabeya said that Mr Kahuho and all other offices that were under him are now consolidated in the NLC.

“Mr Kahuho is basically an employee of the commission,” he said, adding that the NLC has no power to sign any land document including leases.

Cause strife

Surprisingly, the ministry failed to copy to the NLC the allotment letter which it copies to the PS Lands, Director Survey, Nairobi County Clerk, Director of Physical Planning, Officer in charge land rates, accountant, records and plot file.-standardmedia.co.ke

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