Kisii county leadership has come under sharp scrutiny following revelations that top officials, an MCA and officials from the ministry of Lands, conspired to defraud the public Sh20 million in a land scam that is exposing the rot that riddles Kisii county government.
Investigations by Weekly Citizen revealed that the county administration spent only Sh15 million on the piece of land, measuring 20 acres in Nyatieko sublocation, which is the subject of the ownership dispute. However, we have established that county officials inflated the land price rate by more than 50pc billing the taxpayer Sh34million as the actual cost of the disputed property.
Our investigations established that the county officials, Kisii lands officials and Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka were in the know of the complications of the land ownership but ignored the issue after Governor James Ongwae allegedly promised to use the powers of his office to have the issue settled with not much problems. The land has created serious tension on the ground and is threatening to destabilize the relationship between the voters of Kitutu Chache South and the county government. To silence the villagers, hotel owner and county “chief secretary”, Patrick Lumumba, devised a scheme that worked perfectly well for them to buy the vocal area MP Onyonka, who had initially stood by his people to resist the county’s decision to take the dumpsite and public cemetery project to Nyatieko, a sleepy village with heavily concentrated population and schools. Onyonka was therefore compromised while Kisii land registrar Stephen Mokaya, county surveyor, Ben Ogechi not spared. Lumumba, former civic leader, Pius Abuki, lands CEC Vincent Sagwe names feature in the deal. The deal saw county treasury officials exaggerate the total cost of the land from Sh15million to Sh34million. The team detailed the land registrar, Mokaya and the county surveyor, to assist them in record- tampering to disadvantage the other claimant on the land.
Kitutu Chache South residents have questioned how their MP changed tune, yet he had previously stood by them in opposing the project. Speaking to Weekly Citizen, Nyagami Gai who is a representative of his family vehemently denied press reports that his family received Sh34million for the land in question from the county government. Gai stated that his family is a Christian one and that to steal from the public is against their Christian ideals and threatened to return the money if the county government does not clarify the figure of Sh34million. Gai called on EACC to move with speed and investigate how the county arrived at the Sh34 million. James Mosioma, a public policy expert from Kitutu Chache South based in Nairobi has asked whether the county had involved Nema in conducting environmental assessment impact before deciding that the location was the best site suited for a public cemetery. The land, measuring 20 acres is being contested by two families with each having a valid title deed. The county government, through Mokaya, sided with one of the contestants who, reports indicate received his title deed after his opponent had been issued with one. Double titles have become the order of the day in Kisii, a community that is facing acute land shortage due to population pressure. Corrupt land officials have contributed to this crisis by conspiring with land grabbing criminals to issue double titles on the same piece of land.