The commission for Human Rights and Justice has written to the Interior Ministry to probe the conduct of Kilifi County Commissioner Josephat Biwot, his deputy- ganze sub county and the officer commanding Ganze Police Division.
This is in relation to a land boundary dispute pitting Kwale and Kilifi County residents.
The land covering over 10kms and estimated to be 70 hectares is in Samburu area which gets its administrative services in Kwale.
In a letter dated 11th January, 2024 the human rights commission invited Interior Principal Secretary Dr. Raymond Omollo to call the officers to order.
“That the said officers on 20th June 2023 arrogated themselves powers which do not emanate from either the constitution and any other known law and made a declaration altering the county boundaries between Kilifi and Kwale County land with over 10km and/ or thereabout,”
The letter adds weight to a December 2023 resolution made by Kwale leaders led by Governor Fatuma Achani who called for the transfer of Biwot and Kwale County Commissioner Michael Mwangi.
Kwale leaders accused the two of declaring the disputed land to be in Kilifi without involving the county leadership.
Biwot in a response to the media admitted to having visited the area with surveyors to authenticate the real boundary before allegedly making the declaration.
The Human Rights Commission claims the communities are now living in tension because the matter remains unresolved.
“That the said declaration has caused a lot of confusion especially in delivering government services caused animosity between residents residing the frontiers of the two counties,”
The commission has advised the ministry to quickly help resolve the matter before displacement of residents escalates.
“That the effect of the said declaration has led to displacement of Kenya citizens who ancestrally are in Kwale and non-supported to be in Kilifi county,” the letter adds
The two communities affected are Gede Mitangani from Kilifi and Duruma community of Kwale who have used it as grazing land. They are found in Kanjaocha, Kanyumbuni, Baisa, Kaza Moyo, Bwaga and Maji ya Chumvi villages.
The commission stated that boundary issues can only be resolved by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission and where there are disputes, local leadership must be involved.
This comes even as residents from both counties accuse the county commissioners of working with land cartels of Somali origin to grab the land.
Some of the residents claim Biwot is working with business tycoon Ali Abdi Abraham whom they claim financed the surveying of the land and wants to take charge of any possible subdivision.
Ali Abdi Abraham has been on the government radar for tax evasion and fraudulent acquisition of government tenders both at county and national level. He is the owner of mega wholesalers.
According to Governor Achani, the county commissioners displayed lack of respect to elected leaders and believes they overstepped their mandate by blatantly disregarding the law.
The governor questioned how the two did not involve county leadership and other relevant bodies before unilaterally choosing to bring surveyors on board.
“The constitution is very clear that we are the custodian of the land and anything the county and the public must be involved. Who are they to make their own decision,” she said.
Achani said the sole responsibility for the boundary delimitation lies with IEBC. She claimed the two officers are jeopardizing the Kenya Kwanza administration.
She said since independence the areas have been known to be in Kwale and residents receive services from the county government.
Achani said all residents have national identities and voter cards clearly indicating the disputed areas are in Kwale adding that the areas are full of Kwale government infrastructure and development projects wondering what criteria the two administrators applied.
Achani said she contacted Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro over the same issue and was told he was not aware.Achani said her administration won’t entertain land injustices, intimidations and dictatorship.
“To them, I am a woman, not a leader, that’s okay but I won’t sit back and let land historical injustices thrive,” she said.
She urged President William Ruto to take stern action against any state officers undermining women’s leadership.
Deputy Governor Chirema Kombo said the two administrators should arrested and charged in a court of law.
He claimed they have shown great disrespect to their offices and the office of the governor.
Kombo said it is unconstitutional for the officers to undermine county leadership.
He said any issues involving the county, the governor, MPs and MCAs must be involved and well represented.
The leaders just like the commission want the Interior Ministry to quickly settle the matter by transferring the two commissioners over conflict of interest.
President William Ruto is expected to tour the county in a months’ time and the local leaders have vowed to take the commissioners head on.