Row over ranch invasion returns to haunt Lenku


Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku. [File, Standard]

Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku's tenure as a Cabinet Secretary returned to haunt him over a decision made by the government in 2014.

Lenku was appearing before the Narok Environment and Lands Court on Wednesday to testify in a case where members of the Nguruman Group Ranch have sued the government for losses amounting to Sh50 billion.

The members argue they incurred the loss during an invasion of the 68,000-acre ranch by squatters. Lenku was put to task by lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi over his leadership skills at that time when he was serving as Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government.

The ranch owners accused the governor of ordering the withdrawal of security personnel from the property leading to the invasion by some 200 members of Lodokilani clan of Maasai community. The invasion occasioned destruction of the property.

Taking the witness stand before Justice Mohammed Kullow, Lenku defended the government's involvement in the matter.

While cross-examining Lenku, Abdullahi questioned his competency as a Cabinet Secretary as he previously worked in the hospitality industry before President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed him to Cabinet in 2013.

Criticism of his qualifications saw the governor ask for the court’s protection against the "aggressive lawyer." Lenku, who was represented by senior State counsel Oscar Eredi, said the lawyer has vendetta against him.

"Ahmednasir has been insulting me even on social media. He seems to be having vendetta against me, which he has perpetuated to this court," the governor protested.

But Justice Kullow said the court was not aware of the said social media insults.

Lenku opposed the compensation sought by members of the ranch, saying the case before court was not worth the amount demanded.

Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku at Narok Environment and Lands Court where he is a State witness in a Sh50 billion compensation suit by Nguruman Ltd. [Robert Kiplagat, Standard]

However, Ahmednasir took issue with the October 31, 2014 meeting held at then CS Lenku’s office at Harambee House with the Kajiado elected leaders over the Nguruman, Shombole and Olkiramatian group ranches dispute.

Lenku denied ordering withdrawal of police from the Nguruman property. He said as CS, he had no express authority to order the police.

“The police have their structured chain of command led by the Inspector General. As CS it was not my responsibility to direct the police since the ministry deals with national government administrators,” he said.

The governor defended the meeting with local politicians, saying it was meant to address security in the area.

The Nguruman Limited filed the petition in 2018 demanding Sh50 billion in damages, saying the government failed to protect the property from invasion.