Kilifi County Commissioner Magu Mutindika on Monday warned residents of Sabaki in Magarini constituency against invading land belonging to the Agricultural Development Corporation.
He said those who will interfere with the public land will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Mr. Mutindika was reacting threats by a section of residents, led by Sabaki Member of County Assembly Edward Kazungu Dele, who vowed to invade the land and allocate themselves plots since the National Land Commission had revoked title deeds and ordered the eviction of persons who had been illegally allocated the land by the ADC.
“That land remains government property and we shall send police officers to deal with anybody who will invade and interfere with it,” the administrator said in a telephone interview.
Mutindika advised the agitators to seek clarification on the progress of the actualisation of the NLC directive from the Magarini Deputy County Commissioner and shun politicians bent on inciting them to break the law.
On Monday, the residents gave the government 14 days to evict people who have encroached the ADC Kiswani Home Farm and Kiswani Butchery Farm failing which they said they would take the law into their hands and allocate themselves land parcels.
They claimed that despite the NLC cancelling title deeds issued to individuals and ordering the eviction of persons irregularly allocated the 950-acre piece of land in December 2018, no action had been taken to actualize the order.
“We are giving the County Commissioner, Kilifi, 14 days to prepare his team and come and evict all those people who were illegally allocated the land by ADC,” Mr. Dele said and added that, “he should take immediate action failure to which Sabaki residents will take the law into their hands.
He said the prominent people who were illegally allocated land in the ADC land had already been exposed in the media and wondered why law enforcement agents had not actualised the NLC directive.
“What is surprising is that television stations are daily showing who the illegal occupants are but nothing has been done to them, just because they are said to be prominent. Since they broke the law, they should not expect preferential treatment,” he said.
The MCA said residents were eager to see fences pulled down and buildings demolished since the NLC investigated and gave a report indicating that land was illegally acquired by the individuals.
“If this was a court order to evict poor squatters, they would have deployed many police officers to execute the order, but since those involved are rich people, the officers are reluctant to act,” he said.
He asked the county commissioner to hold a baraza in the area and explain to the residents how many of the illegal occupants had surrendered their title deeds to the commission and when the land would revert to the locals.
His sentiments were echoed by land activist Stembo Kaviha Kikopi and villagers Charo Kahindi Baya and Kavumbi Karisa, who said locals had suffered a lot since the land was taken over by the ADC.
They wondered who allowed the ADC to sell the land to individuals instead of using it for the purposes of developing agriculture in the area.
A letter written on behalf of the squatters by Marende Necheza and Company Advocates also gave the NLC and the County Commissioner 14 days to furnish them with accurate information and clarifications regarding the matter.
The letter noted that the NLC had said all illegal occupants of the land would be evicted within 90 days and ordered those with title deeds to surrender them to the commission within 14 days, orders the letter said had not been actualized.
“It has been eight months and the particulars or specifics of the public notice published on December 8, 2018 have not been actualized.
“Our clients, who by law ought to be sole beneficiaries of such lands are now apprehensive that they are losing what rightfully and/or ancestrally belongs to them,” the letter dated August 10, says.
The letter, which was copied to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Malindi, and the Malindi Sub County Police Commander among others urged the NLC and the County Commissioner to provide accurate information regarding the matter.
“This kindly do within the next fourteen days from the date thereof failure to which we shall have no choice but to institute legal proceedings for appropriate orders at your own perilous risk as to legal cost,” the letter dated August 10, 2019 says.
In December 2018, then NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri said all occupants of the 950-acre land would be evicted within 90 days and ordered those with title deeds to surrender them to the Commission within 14 days since they had been revoked.
He said neither those allocated land by the ADC nor squatters would be allowed to interfere with public property, noting that there were no records indicting that the ADC board met and passed a resolution to give the land to individuals.
By Emmanuel Masha