For Danes at centre of deportation case, controversy not new

A Danish national facing deportation by the Immigration Services is not new to controversy.

The Dane, Peter Bonde Nielsen, and his father Jan Bonde Nielsen have been at the centre of a vicious battle over the 67,000-acre Ol Donyo Laro Estate in Narok and Kajiado counties for the last four decades.

In 2012, the two were accused in court of armed occupation of part of the Nguruman Ltd ranch where they were running an exclusive resort patronised by high-end clients.

In 2013, a Narok-based group ranch near the Maasai Mara Game Reserve appealed to the  Inspector-General of Police to disarm the two Danes alleged to be occupying part of the ranch at the behest of powerful Kenyan politicians and former MPs.

CONTROVERSY

The controversy over the ranch has been going on for almost three decades but it grabbed public attention when lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi who was representing them took to Twitter accusing the then Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku of stage-managing an occupation of the ranch, a claim the CS rejected.

At odds are different entities that have laid claim to the expansive ranch.

The accusations against him were publicised in Parliament in March 2011 by then Gichugu MP Martha Karua, but the House ran its full term before a resolution was reached.

Former Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere had ordered an investigation into the matter, culminating in a recommendation for immediate disarmament, but this never happened.

ARMED OCCUPATION

“We have knocked on every door in this country, and no one has come to our rescue about the armed occupation of our land.

“We want the firearms removed from our property,” said the then Nguruman group ranch chairman Moses Ololouaya.

The long-running dispute, still in court, between the Nielsens and Nguruman Ltd and Shompole Group Ranch owners – adjoining parcels of 26,993 hectares and 50,000 hectares, respectively – has evolved from conflicts over local, commercial, legal and security interests.

However, in a letter to Peter Bonde Nielsen dated July 18, Immigration Services director, Maj-Gen (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa informed the Dane that his application for an investor’s permit had been rejected.

PETITION

The Dane had responded to the rejection letter with a petition at the High Court, arguing that the Immigration Services director was hoodwinked by his former business partners to cause his expulsion from the country as part of a scheme to lock him out of various real estate investments worth billions of shillings.

He and his father have since 2009 been engaged in several court battles with his estranged business partners, Hermannus Phillipus Steyn and Hedda Steyn, over the ranch which cuts across Narok and Kajiado counties.

He has also been engaged in fights over the land with a group of local ranchers under the Nguruman Ltd umbrella, who reckon that the Ol Donyo Laro Estate is their land that was forcefully taken by the Dane.

Mr Peter Bonde Nielsen, who has lived and worked in Kenya since 2004, was among thousands of businessmen and politicians who were last year named in the controversial Panama Papers, a collection of 11.5 million leaked documents that detailed offshore company ownerships.

INVESTIGATIONS

Police have been investigating him since 2005 for illicit activities ranging from illegal possession of firearms to game sporting, human trafficking, illegal export of live wildlife, drug cultivation “and other irregular activities” but have taken no action against him to date.

The Nielsens style themselves as wildlife conservationists, but Nguruman directors accuse them of armed occupation of their land and using firearms to intimidate the owners of the land, and applying for firearm licences for use on the farm without the registered owners’ permission.

The matters have simmered through the security systems, the courts and Parliament for years without a solution being found.

When the matter was brought up in Parliament, the government seemed unperturbed about the activities of a man with a previous record in Europe and acknowledged that there were 29 firearms and ‘barracks’ on the ranch.

FORCIBLY EVICTED

The agreement with Nguruman started falling apart around 2009, resulting in at least seven law suits which are at various stages in the law courts.

Nguruman says the Nielsens have claimed ownership of a property that sits on a piece of land that they (Nguruman) have owned since 1986, which forms the basis of the trespass and other disputes up for determination by the courts.

The Nelsens were forcibly evicted from the ranch in 2014 by armed herders who burned down the tourist resort and vandalised property.

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