?Former top officials of the defunct Municipal Council of Kisumu (MCK) could be arrested and charged with fraud and abuse of office if a report by a task force on land allocation in the town is adopted by the county government.
A former mayor, town clerk and town planner are alleged to have presided over illegal allocation of plots and government houses worth billions of shillings.
According to the task force instituted by former Governor Jack Ranguma and chaired by lawyer James Mwamu (pictured), the land allocation mess was to blame for the displacement of hundreds of people in Kanyakwar, Kajulu, Mamboleo, Kolwa and Kasule in Kisumu.
In its report, the eight-member task force on irregular allocation of public land, said land problems in Kisumu town and its neighbourhood "have been created by successive municipal councils and well-connected politicians who have taken advantage of the weak structures to interfere with land allocation".
Several institutional houses sitting on prime land in the leafy Milimani Estate were also grabbed by influential individuals, according to the report.
"The double and multiple allocations of land in Kisumu was caused by greed, corruption, political patronage and impunity in the county."
The municipality, according to the report and the Kenya Gazette notice number 6862, illegally repossessed land acquired by the national government for expansion of the town and fraudulently subdivided them and sold to unsuspecting buyers, some of who were powerful and influential individuals in the political and business arena.
The commissioners point out that MCK had no authority or legal standing to repossess these parcels since they did not belong to the council. "They had titles already issued by Commissioner of Lands. There is a proper procedure under the law for taking away land already registered," reads the report.
It goes on to say that the municipal officials ignored warnings from the Commissioner of Lands and the National Lands Commission against allocating these parcels.
"That is totally against the Planning Act and Council by-laws. They approved plans for developers in other people's parcels of land," reads the report. This, it adds, has saddled the county government in litigation arising from illegal allocations.
A number of the people allocated the parcels have developed them but have no titles.
"A visit to Kanyakwar shows that several houses have been built on those parcels through allotment letters without council approved plans," it says.
"A number of parcels of land were illegally taken by Municipal Council and allotted to people without proper procedures being followed."
The task force sat for 120 days from August 30 last year and went through land records dating back to 1965, unearthing rot that has widely been blamed for the slow pace of development in the lakeside town and its environs.
In Kanyakwar, which was set aside for expansion of Kisumu town under gazette notice number 3400, the task force found that the eviction of residents was done before identification of their plots, survey and adjudication of the same which was illegal and against the Land Trust Act.
The land has been the subject of several conflicts, some which have resulted in deaths following clashes between people who claim to be the rightful owners and those who were sold the parcels illegally.