Tana River Governor Dhadho Gaddae Godhana has appointed a seven-member taskforce to investigate illegal and irregular land allocations in his county.
In a special issue of the Kenya Gazette of January 25, 2019, the taskforce would be expected to advise the county government on matters related to irregular allocation of public land in the county.
The taskforce members are Kenneth Omondi Nyaenda from the National Government, Jacob Jarha, an auditor and member of the Institute of Public Accountants of Kenya, Surveyor Emily Wawira, NLC’s Elijah Letangule, Mr. Abdikadir Abdi Lugumba from the County Administration, David Mufuaya of the Kenya Land Alliance and lawyer Alice Kinyua.
Godhana said the taskforce would be expected to come up with a report that would guide the county government in collaboration with the NLC to recover/repossess illegally/irregularly acquired public land.
“The taskforce will also recommend procedure, structure and framework for land management in the county as well as a guide into developing a land policy for Tana River,” he said.
Other objectives of the taskforce, he said, will be to provide a detailed report on historical land injustices, a detailed report on ranches the Kipini coastal shoreline as well as recommend measures to resolve issues emanating from the prevalent multiple allocations of public land.
But before the taskforce starts its work, Garsen Member of Parliament Ali Wario Guyo has criticized the appointments, saying the governor did not have the legal mandate to form such a team.
“The role of the county government, according to the constitution, is to plan urban centres such as Hola, Bura, Minjila and Madogo. All the other land matters are in the ambit of the national government,” Mr. Guyo said during the opening of the Kipao Secondary School Saturday.
He questioned the composition of the taskforce’s membership, saying not even one of those appointed were residents of Tana River and urged locals not to cooperate with it.
Governor Godhana was not immediately available to respond to Mr. Guyo’s claims as he did not answer calls to his mobile numbers or respond to text messages.
Land matters in the county are very sensitive and any attempt to handle them have evoked emotive responses.
In 2013, then Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu (now Kitui Governor) landed in the county ready to start a land adjudication exercise, but she was stopped in her tracks by local leaders who claimed they would use their power to convince residents to allow the exercise to continue.
Then Governor Hussein Dado appointed a special committee to oversee the exercise, but by the end of his term, nothing had been done despite the committee submitting a report to him.
A year later, President Uhuru Kenyatta also visited the county with a view to issuing title deeds to some residents but could not do so following intelligence reports that leaders had mobilized locals to stop the exercise.