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Activist Okiya Omtata reclaims grabbed public land after 9 years of court tussle

Human Rights activist Okiya Omtata has reclaimed an 843-acre parcel of land at Nasewa area in Matayos Sub County of Busia from powerful land grabbers.
The parcel that had been set aside for construction of Busia Sugar factory in 1991 was grabbed by selfish individuals who registered it in the name of Busia Sugar Company.
Speaking to the press at the County Commissioner’s Boardroom on Friday, Omtata said some powerful individuals grabbed it and registered it under Busia Sugar Company and used fraudulent means to privatise it.
“They later used it to steal a lot of money from Busia Sugar Company and according to records Sh8.3 billion was stolen and the same individuals also stole some equipment like tractors that were meant to kick start the running of the factory,” he said.
He disclosed that an officer from the land registry tipped him off about what was happening at the facility prompting him to follow up the matter in 2011.
“On February 6, 2012, I filed a case against them in Bungoma law courts after they refused to vacate the public land,” said Omtata.
He added that the case even proceeded to the Court of Appeal before being referred back to Bungoma High Court.
The activist stated that Bungoma court came up with the judgment of the case on July 1, 2018 and gave the accused persons a window to appeal.
“After that we had to wait for a decree on July 8 this year after which I came to Busia County Land Registry where the title was revoked from Busia Sugar Company to the National Treasury, meaning that the parcel has been given back to the government,” he said.
Okiya added that all the debts that were alleged to have been accrued over the parcel have also been canceled and the government can freely use it for development projects.
“I would like the government to consider residents of Busia because they gave out their parcel since 1991 to date awaiting development projects to be established,” he said.
He hinted that the Chinese government has declared an interest in establishing a cassava factory to the tune of Sh200 billion in either Kenyan or Ugandan side.
“I talked to them last month and they indicated that they would prefer to have the factory on the Kenyan side, he said adding that the final decision rests with the national government and the local residents”.
“They said there is a high demand for cassava, starch and ethanol which are currently in high competition with wheat in their country”.
The official added that if accepted by the government, the factory will greatly help in boosting the Big Four agenda adding that the parcel is one of the biggest assets of the county.
Omtata appealed to the office of the DPP and DCI to file criminal charges against the unscrupulous individuals to ensure that the Sh8.3 billion stolen from the government is recovered.
The activist further urged President Kenyatta to ensure that a factory is established in the parcel adding that Busia County has no industries following the current wrangles within the sugar sector.
He handed over the title deed to Busia County Commissioner Jacob Narengo who will ensure that it is forwarded to the CS National Treasury.
Busia County Commissioner Jacob Narengo lauded Omtatah for fighting to recover the parcel and restoring it to the government.
“This was a good gesture for the public good and I will ensure that the title deed is handed over to the PS Treasury as the custodian of all national government inventories,” he said.
Narengo exuded confidence that the parcel will be utilized by the government to propel the big four agenda.
“At the moment, we will allow local residents to plant legumes on the parcel and the parcel will be fenced off awaiting the designated project of the government’s choice,” he said.
He added that a police post has already been established around the place to ensure security.
By Salome Alwanda

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