Land grabbers have scooped all land reserved for expansion of the country’s overcrowded 23 prison facilities. This means that courts will in future have great difficulty meting out custodial sentences to law breakers. Official government records seen by The People Sunday indicate that all the land reserved for prison expansion has changed ownership to well connected individuals, a good number of them relatives and senior officials in the regime of Kenya’s second president, Daniel arap Moi.
In Nairobi, a huge chunk of land belonging to Lang’ata Women’s Prison was excised and shared between a daughter of the former President and a former cabinet minister in the Moi regime. On the former prison land now stand a secondary school owned by the former President’s daughter. On his part, the former cabinet minister constructed a housing estate and a shopping centre which he later arm-twisted a local authority pensioners fund to purchase from him at a highly exaggerated price.
The same fate befell land belonging to Nairobi West Prisons and the Nairobi Remand Prison, which too, were allocated to the well-heeled in the Moi regime. The land reserved for expansion of Nairobi West Prison is now a residential area where two-bedroom flats cost between six and ten million. Among the beneficiaries of the 204 parcels of land excised from prison land are a former Chief of the Defence Forces Daudi Tonje (20.23 hectares), former civil aviation director Chris Kuto (1.67 hectares), former nominated MP Mark Too (2.8 hectares), and former presidential escort commanders Samson Cheramboss and Stanley Kiptum arap Manyinya, who got 12.14 hectares and 8 hectares, respectively.
Other beneficiaries include former High Court judge Alex A G A Etyang (8 hectares), former diplomat and military man, Gen George Agoi (6 hectares), and senior military officers, Moses Yatur and Hezron Ambundo, who got eight and six hectares, respectively. Others in the list of shame are former Kenya Seed Company Managing Director Nathaniel Tum (22 hectares), and five former provincial commissioners, Peter Kiilu (4 hectares), William Changole (4 hectares), Amos Bore (24.23 hectares), the late Nicholas Kipchumba Mberia (8.89 hectares) and the late Ishmael Juma Chelang’a (3 hectares). Documents seen by The People Sunday also indicate that 33.67 hectares of Kamiti Maximum Prisons’s land has been hived off and allocated to private developers.
Another 17.5 hectares which used to serve as the prisons’ quarry was also stolen and allocated. Every effort by the Kenya Prisons Service to recover the grabbed land has hit a stone wall. In a letter to former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Vice President Dr Ludeki Chweya dated January 18, 2012, the Deputy Commissioner of Prisons, J K Matheri, had communicated the frustration his department was going through trying to recover the lost land.
“The (prisons) department has been sued by illegal allottees of the prisons land and there are cases pending in court. The illegal allottees are claiming the land so they can possess and develop it. Some of the illegal allottees are already settled on the disputed land,” said Matheri in the letter. He identified some of the grabbed prison land as a huge chunk of land belonging to Shimo La Tewa Prison in Mombasa, and which was excised by the former Mombasa Municipal Council and allocated to former councillors and their friends.
Land belonging to Shanzu Probation Hostel, also in Mombasa, was too, irregularly allocated to a private developer. In Kilifi, 15 acres of prison land was allocated to an individual by then Kilifi Town Council, as was prison land in Lamu next to the proposed Lamu Port. In Nakuru, land belonging to the women prison was taken over by then Nakuru Municipal Council which turned part of it into a dumpsite. The rest of the land has been allocated to private developers from India.
In Eldoret, the land where the prison sits is being claimed by Eldoret Catholic Church, while adjacent land reserved for it’s expansion is being claimed by a co-operative society and some individuals. The story is the same in Kitale where the prison’s farm was excised and allocated to individuals as former Kitale Municipal Council took away land reserved for expansion of the prison facility and dished it out to individuals.
In Kericho, the former municipal council allocated the local prison land to the landless Talai clan, and dished out another piece of prison land in Sotik. In Central Kenya, land belonging to Thika Women Prison was allocated by the former municipal council to individuals, and is now a middle class residential area. The quarry land for the same prison too, disappeared in same manner. In Nyandarua, Ol jororok, the story is the same: prison land fell victim to grabbers’ greed.