NIS under probe over 400-acre land
By Wilfred Ayaga
| October 3rd 2014
NAIROBI: A Senate team will investigate circumstances under which the National Intelligence Service (NIS) acquired 400 acres of public land in Kitui County amid concerns over the legality of the transaction.
The Senate Lands Committee has subsequently put to a stop all transactions involving the trust land located in Kanyanyooni.
The directive followed a hearing attended by Kitui Governor Julius Malombe and area Senator David Musila.
The two leaders told the committee that the land under probe had been 'grabbed' by the spy agency, despite resistance by the local community. The ranch land was in possession of a local co-operative society.
Following the concern generated by the disclosure, the committee ordered the National Land Commission (NLC) not to proceed with the issuance of a title deed to NIS until the matter is fully investigated.
"This committee orders that no further transaction involving the land is done until the matter is concluded and due consultations made," said chairman Lenny Kivuti (Embu).
NIS Director of Administration Samuel Otieno, who appeared before the committee, admitted that the spy agency had indeed been allocated the parcel.
He told the committee that the agency was in possession of an allotment letter from NLC giving it possession of the property at Kanyanyooni area.
"We are only waiting for the title deed to be processed before we can start putting up facilities," said Otieno.
He, however, denied that the land was irregularly acquired, arguing that all processes including payment of the necessary processing fee had been adhered to.
"We followed all the laid-down requirements. This is the amount we were asked to pay. If that is what the law states, what am I expected to do?" posed Otieno.
A letter from NLC dated March 18 allocates the parcel of land to NIS. The parcel is the cause of a tussle between the Kitui County Government and NIS.
NIS representatives cited an advertisement and gazette notice issued by Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu as evidence that the land was properly acquired.
Musila told the team that "blood will be spilt if NIS is allowed to occupy the land". Malombe claimed NIS wanted to take over the land, just a few years after the Administration Police took over another 300 acres under the former local authority.
"I wrote back telling him there must be public participation and that any acquisition has to be in line with the principle of sustainable development. We consider this allocation unconstitutional," he said.
Otieno defended the agency, saying there had been no objection to the acquisition of the land. He told the team that NIS was constrained for space to put up facilities after it became an independent agency with its own budget.
"From 1998, we started looking for land to put up infrastructure. Previously, we were hosted by the police and the Provincial Administration," he said.
Asked by Kisii Senator Chris Obure if NIS was willing to explore other options regarding the matter, Otieno replied: "We are ready to explore other means, including forceful acquisition," he said.
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