Former President Daniel arap Moi's name has been dragged into a bitter land dispute in Kitui town pitting former Cabinet minister George Ndotto against a company associated with renowned environmentalist Isaac Kalua.
Moi's name cropped up Tuesday as police launched investigations into the demolition of a fence on the disputed plot by a hired group of young men.
Moments after, Mr Ndotto angrily told journalists that he mobilised the youths who brought down the fence because he could not stand being evicted from the property.
The one-acre prime plot is on the Kitui-Nairobi road, opposite the prison.
Mr Ndotto, who is the Kitui County Assembly Speaker, said he was allocated the plot by the former President when he was a minister in 1989. But he did not produce documents to back the claims.
"I have been a Cabinet minister in this country and I was given this land by the President himself during one of his tours in Kitui, so any other action to the contrary is illegal and will be challenged," Mr Ndotto charged.
But Dr Kalua produced documents, including a title deed and records from the Ministry of Lands, showing Mr Ndotto was allocated the plot on June 22, 1989, but the former minister neither accepted the offer nor paid the requisite fees for 10 years.
This prompted the Commissioner of Lands to withdraw the allotment for lack of acceptance and meeting other statutory conditions.
According to a six-page status report by the Ministry of Lands dated December 31, 2019, Mr Ndotto was given the land on verbal instructions by the President but his allotment letter was later withdrawn.
The new owners, Checker Oil Products -- which is associated with Dr Kalua -- accepted the allotment and paid the requisite fees on August 8, 2002.
"On January 21, 1998, Checker Oil Products applied for the plot which had remained undeveloped for years and our request was approved on June 25, 1998," reads the report seen by the Nation.
The report, signed by the then Deputy Chief Land Registrar P. N Muturi, further states that a survey was done and a sealed index map signed by the Director of Survey on June 20, 2006, paving way for a certificate of lease to be issued to Checker Oil Products.
"On January 21, 1998, Checker Oil Products applied for the plot which had remained undeveloped for years and our request was approved on June 25th, 1998. This allotment cancelled the Letter of Allotment earlier issued to George Ndotto, vide allotment Ref No. 35362/VI/213," read the report
In a press statement Tuesday, Checker Oil Products said it is the registered owner of the land.
"It is in public domain that illegal encroachment and land grabbing has been rampant in the country. Despite Checker Oil Products being the registered owners, we have been frustrated by squatters and trespassers over the years," read the statement.
"We remain committed to executing our plans of constructing a shopping mall on the property, a project that will attract investors in Kitui town and create jobs" the statement further read.
Kitui Central DCI Officer Nzioka Singi said his officers have launched investigations into the matter.
"We are investigating the matter because there must be rule of law. Anyone found to have participated in demolishing the perimeter fence will be arrested and charged in court with malicious damage to private property," said Mr Singi.