Over 500 members of Ng’ati farmers land buying company in Naivasha have lost huge sums of money after some directors failed to honour their obligations despite receiving Sh505 million from a State agency, a report has revealed.
The investigation report of the ad hoc committee on Ng’ati farm alternative dispute resolution mechanism shows that KenGen paid Sh505 million for land but only Sh92 million was shared among members.
According to the report of the committee set up by Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui in 2018, the land buying company sold 3,093 acres of land to the Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen) for geothermal drilling.
Of the amount, law firms that represented the parties in the transaction and auctioneers were paid over Sh300 million.
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The report says some Sh82 million was unaccounted for.
“Of the amount Sh82.5m remains unaccounted for and a further 123 Ng’ati members have not received their dues to date while the Society’s accounts had been depleted,” reads the report.
The committee has asked the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate some top officials of KenGen, the law firms involved in the transactions and directors of the company over the saga.
Conspired to steal
“It is clear from the report that members were duped. Some people conspired to steal from innocent peasants. The journey for justice may be long and painful but we hope that the recommendations of the committee will be fully implemented,” says Simon Kuria, a member of the company.
“We have never known peace in this area, which is the food basket of the country, and we hope that this committee will resolve their differences and end the suffering that we have undergone.”
The report accuses the power generating company of failing to adhere to procurement rules and obtaining the land without the knowledge of the members.
It further notes that KenGen ought to have conducted a public participation forum in line with the Constitution to ensure the members were aware of the sale.
It says KenGen failed to involve the National Land Commission (NLC), which is the custodian of all public land, adding that the deal was irregular.
“The committee finds that the sale of 3,093 acres of LR 8398/2 to KenGen at a cost of Sh505m was irregular,” reads the report.
But according to KenGen, the sale was above board.
When the KenGen management appeared before the committee, it said they approached the directors of the land buying company who agreed to sell the parcel after presenting the minutes from the members who had approved the deal.
In its submissions by various senior managers who included Jennifer Oduor, Jane Mbogo and Cornelius Letei, KenGen said it followed the law in acquiring the land.
“We wrote to the chairman of Ng’ati in 2012 seeking to purchase a parcel of their land and after following the laid down procedures, including getting minutes from the members, this process was approved,” said Odour.
The chairman of the land buying company, Patrick Karanja, also termed the deal clean as all their members were involved and a Sh505 million deal entered.
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He gave a breakdown of how the money was shared, with lawyers and auctioneers getting the lion’s share and each member getting Sh415,000.
“Of the 581 members, 126 members had their money paid through our lawyer and we spent the money of those who refused to collect it by paying surveyors,” he said.
The investigation committee found that Karanja violated the terms-of-office rule requiring that his team serves for a maximum of two terms of three years each. The management committee stayed in office for 17 years.
“The Assets Recovery Agency and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations should move with speed to recover assets that were fraudulently acquired by the directors and their families,” reads one of the recommendations in the report.
While receiving the report, Governor Kinyanjui said rampant incidents of land disputes in the county are worrying and affecting various development projects. He said his administration would study the report before implementing it, adding that justice must be served to the members.
“Under the ongoing titling programme where we target to issue 200,000 title deeds we hope to fully address the issue of land disputes,” he said.
While handing over the report to affected residents of Maella, the committee said it had proposed for fresh subdivision of over 5,000 acres of land.
The committee said the subdivision of the land was illegal, with some government officials and politicians illegally benefiting.
County Secretary Benjamin Njoroge, who chaired the investigation committee, said the second phase of subdivision had been marred with irregularities.
Njoroge said after 31 sittings, the committee established that non-members of the land buying company had benefited from the land.
He said the ballots were nearly doubled during the voting exercise so that senior government officers and politicians could benefit.
“The first phase was carried out in the right manner but the second phase done in mid 90s was marred with discrepancies, and it should be redone,” he said.
Njoroge said they had written to the Ministry of Lands to form a multi-agency team to lead the fresh subdivision.
“Land set aside for public amenities was also grabbed and this should be revoked by the Ministry of Lands,” he said.
On the land sold to KenGen, Njoroge said members were not involved by the officials of the company.
“Some none members are still living on the land KenGen acquired, awaiting a directive from a team appointed by the President to address the issue,” he said.
Maella MCA Kamanu Gathariki said for years the poor farmers had suffered at the hands of the company directors who had the support of some government officials.
He thanked residents for their patience as the ad hoc committee investigated the land dispute, which had left tens dead, scores injured and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.
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