President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday (July 31st) ordered nearly half a million acres of land in Lamu County repossessed, saying it was acquired by corrupt means and has contributed to the uptick in violence there, Kenya's Capital FM reported.
"We have established that between 2011 and 2012, almost 500,000 acres, which is about 70 percent of the land within Lamu County available for settlement, was alienated to 22 private entities in dubious and corrupt means," Kenyatta said at a press conference following a meeting with religious and political leaders from Lamu.
"I have directed the revocation and repossessions of illegally allocated land in Lamu County to commence immediately," he said.
The land grabbing, Kenyatta said, "has disposed individuals and families living in this area of their land and fuelled the current insecurity being experienced in the region and frustrated our efforts to restore peace".
The president charged Cabinet Secretary for Lands, Housing and Urban Development Charity Ngilu with revoking existing land titles.
Twenty-two private companies and ranches acquired land in what Ngilu called "an unmitigated scramble for land in Lamu", the Daily Nation reported.
The majority of the land transactions took place between April 2012 and November 2012, during a moratorium on the transfer of publicly owned land in advance of the 2013 general elections.
Ngilu attributed the desire for land in Lamu to the launch of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport corridor (LAPSSET) project.
"Lamu County was fairly a quiet part of the country, mainly known as a place of retreat, [but] [LAPSSET] drastically changed its face and huge tracts of land were allocated to the detriment of the local people of Lamu," she said.