Leaders disagree as Lenku wades into Kibiko feud

Management of a prime 2,800-acre piece of community land has for decades seen protracted legal battles between two rival committees

 By Jonathan Teikan

Keekonyokie Community Trust Land may not be subdivided any time soon, despite wide spread allegations that the subdivision had been endorsed by a majority of  the community’s elected leaders.

Following a recent rally convened and attended by Governor Joseph ole Lenku, it was reported in national dailies and social media platforms that the members had made a resolution to subdivide the prime 2,800-acre land in Kibiku.

Speaking to Kajiado Star on phone, Keekonyokie Ward representative Moses Saoyo said, “All members of the community made a resolution to subdivide the Kibiku Holding Ground and all community elected leaders have endorsed the same.”

The May 25 rally was also attended by Senator Philip ole Mpaayei, Kajiado West MP George Sunkuyia, and his immediate predecessor Moses ole Sakuda, among other leaders.

The rally took place against the backdrop of a successful lawsuit lodged by three members of the community land, who sought a court injunction to stop the land trustees from “allocating / alienating / transferring” the land, arguing that the exercise was being done “arbitrarily, unprocedurally, unlawfully, and unconstitutionally… without the mandatory consent of the members.”

The three — Phillip S. Wuantai, John K. ole Musei Moitallel, and David Ntilaua Sorimpan — were however categorical that they were not opposed to the subdivision of land, but any impropriety in the process.

Political elites, who are also members of the affected community, have refuted the reports that the community had made a resolution, but rather that there was a general consensus.

Vocal politician and former Kajiado West MP aspirant Joseph ole Simel, in an exclusive interview with this newspaper, said, “The people who attended the rally were estimated at 1,000, yet the people registered are about 5000, so there was no way such a minority could make a binding decision on behalf of the majority.”

Furthermore, he added, “There was no a way to ascertain that the people present were the actual members of the community land.”

His assertions were supported by Ole Wuantai, also a former MP aspirant, who argued that the meeting was markedly informal. He contended that it takes an organized group, with a published notice and laid down minutes — and one that can verify its members in a register — to make a resolution.

Asked about the fate of the case in court over the matter, he said, “The case is still on course.”

The management of the land has for decades been mired in protracted legal battles between two rival committees — one led by Moses ole Parantai and the other by Moses ole Monik — with each claiming a mandate to manage the land.

It is reported that things began deteriorating when a section of interim trustees accused Moses Parantai, their chairman, of colluding with national lands officials to fraudulently dispose of 100 acres of the land, purportedly to supplement the Nairobi Langata cemetery that was said to have filled up.

Consequently, they purportedly called for a “vote of no confidence” to oust him, and he was “replaced” by Moses Monik.

The land, said to be without any legal regulatory framework, had its first batch of trustees — led by Ole Parantai — appointed by the late MP of the defunct Kajiado North constituency Prof George Saitoti. They were thus the ones who were issued a certificate of title on August 16, 2012.

Thereafter, following the disagreement brought about by the allegation of fraudulent disposal of part of the land, a section of the trustees mobilized some members and purported to elect Moses ole Monik as the new chairman. This led to a formation of the two committees, each with its register of members.

The then new faction led by Ole Monik, upon “assuming office”, went ahead to demand that Ole Parantai hand over the title deed. He declined, arguing that the former had no mandate to chair the trust, and consequently to hold the title.

The conflict quickly escalated into court battles, with allegations of the Ole Monik-led faction also holding a “title deed”, and being in possession of a membership register. Some members of the community are reportedly registered in one of the registers while others are registered in both.

It is reported that on May 17, in a bid to resolve the stalemate, Ole Lenku hosted a delegation of about 40 leaders from the community — elected, former, and aspirant politicians — at his official residence in Kajiado town, where the date for the rally was agreed.

Come the D-day, at the invitation of the governor, approximately 1,000 “members” allied to the two rival camps came in earnest hoping for an amicable solution.

The top items discussed included reconciliation of the two committees, determination of whether Ole Monik was in possession of a title deed, who was to be considered a member of the community land, and whether the county government had an obligation in the affairs of the trust.

After the meeting, it was proved that Ole Monik was only in possession of a certificate of incorporation, while Ole Parantai was in possession of the title deed.

The Community Land Act, 2016, states that the role of the county government is to hold in trust on behalf of a community unregistered community land, but prohibits it from selling, disposing, transferring, and converting it to private purposes.

Taking to his official Facebook page after the rally, Ole Lenku wrote: “We have agreed to reconcile the two committees that lead the community so that we can work in harmony to conclude the process amicably.”

However, of foremost concern to the members who were interested with the subdivision of the land, was whether the process would be fair, transparent and equitable.

Ole Lenku added: “Our people deserve justice in this process and my county government will do all that is required to ensure a transparent process.”

On his part, the senator said: “We made deliberate resolutions to reconcile warring parties as well as put necessary mechanisms in place geared to divide the over 2,500-acre piece of land while ensuring equitable and indiscriminate allocation of land to all members.

“Equally, we made an undertaking as leaders to oversee a seamless process right from delimitation to appropriation to mitigate incidents where a few unethical characters connive to deprive members their rightful shares. The whole process must be anchored in law, and thus must be done in the spirit and letter of the Community Land Act, 2016.”

Ole Simel, however, is of the opinion that, the subdivision of the land could be a recipe for chaos, especially in case two or more people are given to co-own a piece of land.

He suggested that “community elites should look for a better way of utilizing the land.”

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