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February 23, 2019

Mwea squatters head to court

Mwea squatters at meeting in Embu yesterday/REUBEN GITHINGJI
Mwea squatters at meeting in Embu yesterday/REUBEN GITHINGJI

A group of squatters in the disputed Mwea Settlement Scheme will seek court orders to force the government to subdivide the land afresh.

They have prepared the suit papers that they plan to file at the Embu law courts next week. Led by Nyangi Ndiiriri Council of Elders, the squatters said the land was controversially subdivided into 1,932 parcels. However, the government stopped allocation following fatal crashes. Council chairman Andrew Ireri said Kirinyaga county and the national government have remained silent on the way forward.

The squatters who met in Embu town yesterday said earlier subdivision was carried out by the county government in conjunction with the National Land Commission, the ministries of Lands and Interior ministry in total disregard of the law.

The views of squatters were disregarded and the land was allocated to strangers, they said. Large chunks were given to politicians, senior civil servants, prominent people and some elders, the squatters said.

They said there would be no peace in the area as long as the squatters are not given their rights.Because authorities have kept quiet on the issue, the squatters said they have decided to seek orders from court for fresh subdivision.

Subdivision of the land into 1,932 parcels was completed in April before the county and national governments started identifying owners under tight security.

However, squatters attacked and injured some of the beneficiaries, including a former district commissioner and four elders.

Police shot nine squatters during the confrontation. One of them, Kennedy Muvevi, died.

Following the incident, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his Lands colleague Faridah Koroney stopped the exercise indefinitely, pending investigations.

The Mwea conflict dates back to 1970s when the settlement was under Embu County Council.

Since then, or later when the locals bought shares, all efforts to settle squatters have been resisted by residents who claim to be the rightful owners.

Last month, Embu Council of Elders asked the government to prosecute prominent personalities who have grabbed large pieces of the Mwea settlement scheme land.

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