Rival directors agree to end Murang'a’s land dispute

Residents of Kihiu-Mwiri in Murang’a County protest against rising insecurity in the area following the killing of Peter Kimani Kuria, chairman of Kihiu-Mwiri Land Company. [PHOTO: DAVID MUTUNGI/STANDARD]
MURANG’A: The Government has finally moved in to resolve the dispute at the troubled Kihiu Mwiri Land Buying Company, which has led to mysterious killings in the past decade.

With five directors of the firm having been killed in cold blood, the Government has swung into action to try and resolve the dispute involving two factions.

Deputy President William Ruto, who was in Murang'a last week, had called for mediation between the two rival factions of the 16,000-member company.

Consequently, Murang'a County Commissioner Kula Hache Wednesday chaired a meeting that sought to end the acrimony witnessed in the past few years.

The meeting came a day after faction leader Kimani Kuria, who was gunned down by unknown people early this month, was buried in his Greystone home.

Apart from Kuria, other directors who have been killed in cold blood are Wilfred Gichana, Newton Chege Muhoro, Ngugi Kamau, and Benson Ngumi. Three others – Henry Ngugi, Job Mwangi and James Kimaru – disappeared without trace.

The directors of rival camps agreed to meet tomorrow to chat the way forward after arbitration by Kahuro Deputy County Commissioner Patrick Muli.

Hache and his county security team first left the 10-committee members to iron out their differences without success.

When the security team left the venue, Murang'a County Secretary for Lands and Housing Sarah Masaki chaired the session where the directors failed to agree. It was until after 4.30pm that they bowed down to pressure and agreed to each appoint a three-man committee.

"Today I am a happy government officer as there is hope that the protracted disputes will come to an end since the wrangling groups have agreed to sit down and talk," said Hache.

The dispute has attracted the attention of the office of the registrar of companies as rivals fight over control of 12,085 acres of land.

The rival groups have been pulling in different directions as the Government seeks to ensure the land is sub-divided to avert more chaos.

The prime land has attracted interest from many people due to its proximity to Thika town.

Wednesday, tension gripped the 16,000 members as the arbitration meeting chaired by Hache took place at Murang'a County headquarters. The meeting was attended by two deputy county commissioners and county administration police commandant.

Last week, Ruto ordered acting Lands Minister Fred Matiang'i to help resolve the land dispute.

At Wednesday's arbitration, Kakuzi Mitumbiri MCA John Kiarie and security officers left rivals directors in the boardroom as it appeared the talks were headed for a deadlock.

Disputes surrounding the farm revolve around directors accused of selling parcels of land to non-members, a trend that has allegedly seen shareholders rising from 5,000 to 16,000.

Land buying company shareholders acquired loan of Sh480,000 from Agricultural Finance Corporation in the 1970s to buy the land from a white farmer to top up their Sh120,000 collection.

On Friday, leaders led by Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Senator Kembi Gitura, Woman Representative Wanjiru Chege called for the Government's intervention to end the killings at Kihiu Mwiri.

Permanent solution

The leaders cited unending land disputes at Nanga/ Kihoto, Greystone, Mwana wi Kio and Kihiu Mwiri, calling on the Government to give orders for the release of title deeds as a permanent solution.

In the morning, the leadership of the farm arrived in two groups – one led by Mr Peter Kariuki Macharia with the rival sending a single representative.

Kariuki's camp is working towards sub-dividing the land in plots of 50 by 50 metres reducing from the previous 100 by 100 metres when the process was about to be completed before the rival camp frustrated the process.

Kariuki claimed to have been elected in office by shareholders in 2009 with rival team claiming it was a stage-managed affair.

Sources divulged that shareholders are awaiting sub-division of three other blocks namely Sauri, Bingo, Mukuyu to ensure all persons have land.

The locals are demanding immediate sub-division of the land and subsequent issuance of title deeds to end the killings.

A contingent of police was last year deployed at the farm following the killing of Wilfred Gichana, who was shot dead outside his home shortly after he returned from Thika.

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