EACC probes alleged grabbing of college land in Nakuru

Nakuru West residents bring down a fence erected by private developers around a five-acre parcel of land belonging to the Agricultural Training Center (ATC) in Nakuru on January 17, 2022. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has launched investigations into alleged grabbing of a section of land belonging to the Nakuru Agricultural Training Centre (ATC).

The college management and the county government of Nakuru lodged a complaint with the anti-graft agency, claiming that some private developers had illegally occupied part of the institution's 130-acre land.

Last month, a group of angry students, staff and the public pulled down a perimeter fence erected around a five-acre land within the institution.

The private developer who was erecting the fence fled after he was confronted by the angry mob.

Speaking to The Standard on phone, Benjamin Njoroge, the county secretary and head of public service, confirmed the county had invited EACC to carry out investigations.

“We escalated the matter to EACC and asset recovery has been commissioned,” said Mr Njoroge.

In a letter dated January 19, 2022, the county government appealed to the EACC to intervene, reinstate and secure the institution's land against illegal acquisition by private developers.

The letter seen The Standard stated that land and institution’s staff houses had been irregularly acquired by private developers.

The letter added that some of the developers had title deeds, raising questions on how they acquired the property behind the institution’s back.

“The land grabbing has made it difficult to plan for current and future development of the school,” read the letter signed by Njoroge.

Agriculture Executive Immaculate Maina said although the land belongs to the county, it is under the Ministry of Agriculture.

She confirmed that strangers had invaded the property and some were evicted, but insisted that the county had to get more information on how the property was illegally acquired.

EACC South Rift Regional Manager Ignatius Wekesa confirmed that the agency had commenced investigations into the matter.

“The stakes are high and the EACC is on its toes to ensure all grabbed land is recovered and the culprits are apprehended, charged and jailed,” he said.

He added that the EACC is working hand in hand with the county government, land and security agencies to get to the bottom of the issue.

The government, through the Ministry of Education, certified ATC as an agricultural training and vocational training centre in October 2021.

Speaking to The Standard, Nakuru County National Lands Commission Coordinator Frank Kibelekenya said the grabbed parcel was public land.

“The land has not changed hands from ATC. Anyone who claims to own it must be relying on falsified documents,” said Kibelekenya.