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Hundreds of title deeds revoked in clean-up of land records

National Super Alliance (Nasa) co-principal Musalia Mudavadi and independent presidential candidate Joseph Nyagah on Thursday fought off allegations that they grabbed public land.

In separate statements, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Nyagah denied that title deeds to their parcels of land in Nairobi and Kisumu respectively had been revoked by the National Land Commission (NLC) on grounds that they were acquired irregularly.

FALSE
Mr Mudavadi dismissed the allegations as “utter rubbish, sickening and malicious” while blaming them on “Jubilee agents eager to salvage their dwindling electability”.

“It will not be surprising that in the fullness of time, this plot will be exposed as another fairy embarrassment to Jubilee in the mould of the EACC report President Kenyatta dramatised in Parliament.”

TENANT

He maintained that he does not own any property in Nairobi’s Woodley estate “for it to be alleged as repossessed and title revoked”.

“Hon Mudavadi is a tenant in a house in Woodley belonging to Nairobi City County government for which he has religiously paid rent for years,” he said, terming the allegations as “a phantom creation intended to malign the character of Hon Mudavadi”.

The statement was released by Mr Mudavadi’s press secretary Kibisu Kabatesi.

CLUB PATRON
Mr Mudavadi further denied that his father, the late powerful cabinet minister Moses Mudavadi had grabbed a portion of land belonging to the Kakamega Golf Club.

“It is inconceivable that Hon Mudavadi would knowingly allow himself to be patron of Kakamega Golf Club when he is an interested party in grabbing the club’s land.

“It is even ridiculous to imagine that esteemed club members would elect him patron against such conflict of interest.”

LEGAL PURCHASE
Mr Nyagah, too, denied grabbing two pieces of land in Kanyakwar, Kisumu County.

Mr Nyagah maintained that he legally bought the two pieces of land near the Kisumu International Airport from the defunct Kisumu Municipal Council when he was the Minister for Co-operatives in the grand coalition government.

“I bought two little plots of land near the Kisumu International Airport when I was a member of the ODM Pentagon.

“My intention was to demonstrate that as a nationalist, one could own property in any part of the country.

LAND RATES

“I bought the plots from the Kisumu Municipal Council and I was looking forward to putting up some investment but even as we speak, I have not been given the title deeds for them even though I’ve been paying rates consistently,” Mr Nyagah told the Nation.

The NLC stated that it had reviewed the grants after receiving complaints from the public, the national government and various county governments.

TITLE DEEDS
Mr Mudavadi and Mr Nyagah are among hundreds of Kenyans who have lost thousands of acres whose title deeds have been revoked in a massive and unprecedented cleanup of land ownership records across the country.

NLC had claimed that Mr Mudavadi was irregularly allocated public utility land in Woodley, Nairobi, reserved for county government housing.

CASUALTIES
It also claimed that land owned by the senior Mudavadi had also been given back to the Kakamega Golf Club, while Kenya’s permanent representative to Unesco, Prof George Godia, has lost land that the commission says belongs to Prisons Department in Eldoret.

Most of the people affected by the cancellations contained in the 77-page, special July 17, 2017 Kenya Gazette notice issued by the commission are politicians, former top civil servants, lawyers and businessmen.

INVESTIGATION
Speaking Thursday, NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri said the commission followed due diligence before it revoked the title deeds.

All the affected parties had been notified and given an opportunity to argue their cases before the commission.

“We do not deal with names of people or companies. We deal with title numbers.

“Once we identify a title needs more investigations, we notify all interested parties to submit their side of story. For anyone to say we are malicious is missing the point,” he said.

COURTS
He asked those who feel aggrieved to challenge the move in court.

“Kenyans are happy with our work but those affected were, of course, angry. But the Constitution allows one their day in court and we will be there to defend ourselves,” he said.

He said the work took three years to complete and it was guided by the law and even warned some of the affected individuals that they were occupying government houses illegally.

PUBLIC LAND

“We informed some people that they were occupying government houses illegally and they were surprised.

“There are others who knew from onset they were occupying public land illegally. For example those who were in public playgrounds knew they were on the wrong side of the law,” he said.

He was supported by Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu who maintained that all title deeds issued to individuals and companies for land within demarcated forest lands were illegal.

KARURA FOREST
She asked those who had acquired titles to deal with whoever sold the land to them or issued them the titles, saying that the commission was right to revoke the titles.

“No matter who you are, what you have done, how they acquired it, the land belongs to Karura Forest and that remains so.

“The forest is fenced and it is intact. The titles have been revoked. There is nothing beyond that,” she said, referring to the revocation of 151 titles of land belonging to the forest.

GRABBING

“When we wrote to the NLC, we targeted 580,000 hectares of de facto forest settlements across the country.

“This included places and controversial areas that had been settled on for 30 to 40 years and these places were being called forests,” she said.

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Chief Conservator Emilio Mugo said the institution, which is the custodian of all government forests, would simply take over the plots, whose titles had been revoked by the NLC, as they were devoid of structures.

He said that KFS had always asked the lands commission not to collect any rates from persons who had irregularly grabbed forest land as this would sanitise the grabbing.

Move gives many public institutions and individuals land commission says had been grabbed.

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