City landowner claims he is victim of extortion

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

The Sh 3.2 billion Ruaraka land saga took a new dimension yesterday after the initial landowner accused politicians and senior government officials of trying to extort Sh82 million from him to stop Parliament from investigating the matter Consequently, the owner also accused six other officials of trying to extort a further Sh280m from the Sh1.5 billion that he has so far received as part of compensation of the land where Ruaraka High School and Drive Inn Primary School sit.

Francis Mungai, who is the director of Afrison Export Import Limited and Huelands Limited, said the individuals approached him and demanded the money within one day failure to which he would be dealt with just the way Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was dealt with in the National Youth Service (NYS) saga.

Accompanied by his lawyers, Mungai told the departmental committee on Lands chaired by Kitui South MP Rachel Nyamai that it is after he declined to give in to their demands that a petition was filed in Parliament. He told the committee that he is ready to surrender the money to the government and reclaim his land if questions on the compensation continue.

“Who is the accuser, I want to face him one on one, this is because he came to me and demanded Sh82.1m from me within one day or else I would face the same fate Waiguru faced,” he said.

“We are very busy people, I bought the land when I was 20- years-old and I am now 67 years. If I stole the land, I would have sold it long time ago. Many people have put up buildings in this land illegally and they know that,” he added.

Mungai made the comments even as he said he will be suing the Attorney General and the Education ministry failing to pay rent arrears amounting to Sh6b for all the buildings erected on the land.

According to him, the only legal buildings there are the houses put up on the 37 acres occupied by General Service Unit as he is the one who sold the land to the government.

The entire land is 96 acres out of which GSU occupies 37 acres, while the two schools occupy 13.5 acres and the remainder has been taken over by the huge expansion of Outering Road, chiefs camp and the rest grabbed by squatters.

“It is not only here that they are trying to grab land, we know very well that open spaces including those housing schools have been grabbed and that is why I declined to subdivide my land, ” he said.

Mungai claimed ownership of the land on the day that State Law office confirmed that the disputed land belong to his companies. Attorney General Paul Kihara, who was accompanied by officials who handled the matter before he took over office, told the committee that the setting up of the school was illegal as the land in question is private land.

The senior officials said the subdivision of land should not have happened neither should allotment letters have been issued as the land belongs to Mungai.

In particular deputy Chief State Counsel Thoithi Kanyuira confirmed that the land belonged to the two companies and not the schools. He said: “putting up of the school was an illegality. The allotment letter could not have existed.”

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