The Kakamega county government is contemplating moving to court to sue the state over the ongoing demolitions in Milimani estate.Governor Fernandes Barasa said his administration will be seeking millions of shillings in compensation.
Speaking when he visited Milimani estate yesterday, Barasa said his administration was not consulted by the national government over the demolitions.
“We are an interested party in this matter because part of this land belongs to the defunct municipality and on that basis, the land is automatically under county government. We are going to be enjoined in a suit against the national government which has acted through the office of Regional Commissioner so that victims can be compensated,” said the governor.
He accused Western Regional Commissioner Irungu Macharia of aiding the demolition on behalf of the national government in contravention of court orders.
“We were not part of the ongoing demolitions and we never authorized it, what is going on is on the mercies of the Regional Commissioner who is acting on behalf of the national government and we will be moving to court against what he has done," said the county chief.
The governor termed the demolition 'impunity of the highest order' after the Kakamega Law Courts issued orders stopping the exercise.“We are going to court to stop the ongoing demolition and it is so unfortunate that the government has decided to act in contempt of court orders and decided to go on with the demolitions at night," said Barasa.
He termed the move by the national government a threat to devolution saying the demolition is selective and only county government buildings and those of private individuals are being targeted.
“The state has an ill motive, the demolitions are discriminatory because we are only seeing the county buildings being demolished and those that belong to the national government are being spared, this is a threat to devolution and violation of the Constitution,” said Barasa.
“What is going on here is pure looting because the state has decided to let goons steal the property belonging to individuals,” he added.
Isukha Central MCA Dan Mukofu and his West Kabras counterpart David Ndakwa vowed to table a motion in the assembly to stop the demolitions saying that the right procedure should be followed during evictions to prevent innocent Kenyans from incurring huge losses.
“We want due process to be followed right away from the issuance of notice, compensation and the safety of the property of our people and that is what we will make sure we incorporate in the motion, “said Ndakwa.
Josy Makotsi, a daughter of the first Mayor of Kakamega said they have lived in the area for the last 52 years only for their houses to be demolished in the night.
“We have all that is needed from title deeds and we have been paying land rates to the county government. What pains the most is that even after securing a court order restraining demolitions, a dozen police officers, youths with pangas and bulldozers stormed our premises at night and brought down what we built for the last 52 years," said Makotsi.
“We are calling for the dignity of the people of Kakamega, let the government follow the law and obey court orders, someone could be behind this prime land because why is the government targeting Milimani estate in the name of putting up affordable houses while on the other hand, it is demolishing peoples buildings?" she posed.
On Wednesday night the houses of businessman Jaswant Singh Rai and others belonging to two judges were flattened.For the better part of Thursday, youth were looting property in the estate.
The Regional Commissioner told The Standard that they are reclaiming government land and dismissed claims that the demolitions are discriminatory.
“We are acting in good faith and in the good of our country, we have no ill motive and our aim is to repossess the public land from land grabbers. I have not seen any court order and I think the issue of contempt of court will be well addressed by the office of Attorney General not me," he said.
Macharia said that even the house he resides in near Kakamega State Lodge is earmarked for demolition.
“In fact, I am preparing to relocate next week because no one is immune and there is no selection, we have not demolished county houses, we are demolishing houses of individuals who acquired government land through dubious means," he said.