Residents tell Governor Kingi to keep off dispute over 7,100 acres

A section of residents living in Madzimbani-Matangoni settlement scheme, Mariakani in Kilifi county protesting over the land tussle.[Robert Menza,Standard]

Eighty-year-old Nzingo Mbudzya has seen it all.

From the days when Durumas, Kambas and Giriamas coexisted peacefully on 7,100 acres of land in Mariakani in Kilifi County to the time a dispute arose over its ownership. 

Over many decades, residents have not only farmed and constructed their homes on the land that straddles the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, but social amenities such as schools, churches and mosques also came up.

It is for this reason that the octogenarian on Thursday joined hundreds of residents in a demonstration against politicians they claim are fueling a dispute over its ownership in the name of mediation.

The residents of Madzimbani-Matangoni Settlement Scheme also rejected mediation efforts led by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.

Ms Mbudzya says the dispute is the subject of a court case and politicians should thus steer clear of it to avoid escalating the situation, adding that land is a very emotive issue in Kilifi and a dispute can easily lead to bloodshed.

In 2018, the Court of Appeal Judges Alnashir Visram, Martha Koome and Wanjiru Karanja temporarily stopped the eviction of more than 35,000 people from the disputed Madzimbani-Matangoni Settlement Scheme until their case is heard and determined. This followed an appeal challenging a 2017 ruling by High Court Judge Oscar Angote that the land belonged to the clan of the late Mumba Chome and that the Kilifi County Government was holding the trust land on its behalf.

The family had claimed that the title deed held by members of three clans, namely Mwabeja, Mwamundu and Mwakai was acquired fraudulently on August 26, 2014.

In July of 2019, then Lands Principal Secretary Dr Nicholas Muraguri wrote to the then Kilifi Lands Adjudication and Settlement Officer Mary Muteti over the authenticity of a title deed for the vast land issued in the name of Tsagwa Ngala, noting it had led to serious boundary disputes.

A section of those living on the vast land signed an out-of-court agreement with the Chome family but the matter was not brought before the court to withdraw the appeal.

Clan elders, including Mwambeyu Ngala and Ms Mbudzya, opposed the agreement and moved to the Court of Appeal to block its implementation.

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