By Osinde Obare
Controversy has erupted at Chepchoina Settlement Scheme in Kwanza following allegations that 250 Ugandans, among them a civic leader, had been allocated land.
During a peaceful demonstration at Chepchoina on Tuesday, the more than 8,000 people demanded that the Government revokes the allocations and disbands the resettlement committee.
“The committee has plotted to displace us from land we were legally allocated and to resettle strangers. We are not going to move. We are ready to die on our farms,” vowed the protestors.
Led by Mzee James Kaburu, the demonstrators alleged that the committee has allocated land to 250 Ugandans, including a councillor from Chepnyeny area in Kapchorwa District, eastern Uganda.
“Our land has been grabbed and dished out to foreigners. We want Kwanza District Commissioner Gabriel Risie transferred and the resettlement exercise stopped,” demanded Mr Joseph Ekitala.
Flashing out allotment letters issued by the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) management in 1998, the residents warned of imminent violence vowing not to let the land be taken away.
“This area was the battle ground between security forces and cattle rustlers and we strived to restore peace and now corrupt Government officials want to take away the fertile land,” lamented Mr Nick Kimari.
Ms Margaret Aule, alleged that Government officials and politicians are sneaking in relatives and allies in the resettlement at the expense of the deserving group.
But Kwanza DC Gabriel Risie dismissed claims that Ugandans had been resettled at the scheme and termed the claims as cheap propaganda.
“There is no way we can resettle foreigners. Not even one has been allocated land at the scheme,” Mr Risie said.
He added: “I am not aware that politicians had sneaked in names of their cronies and relatives. But what I know is that those allocated land are deserving Kenyans.”
Investigations at the Lands office in Kitale showed that people including a former chief in Kwanza and relatives and allies of local politicians are beneficiaries of the allocations.
“We were given the names of the beneficiaries by the Government and our duty is to issue allotment letters and also show the beneficiaries their parcels of land. The issue on who has been allocated is beyond our reach,” said a lands officer who declined to be named.