A lobby group Western Kenya Human Rights Watch is calling on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Bungoma County to immediately arrest and arraign a senior government official.
WKHRW executive director Job Bwonya says Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai should be held accountable for the chaos that took place in Mt. Elgon that saw one person die.
“Kimtai should be held responsible for the chaos that took place at a farm in Kaboywo location, Kaptama division on March 26, 2021 that resulted into the death of one person, another admitted at Kitale Hospital in critical condition while other were injured,” read the press release.
Bwonya states that on the material day, servants and managers of the PS led by his brother Gideon Kachuwai alias Jomo in a vehicle registration number KCQ 001Y and two tractors invaded a 10 acre land owned by a widow identified as Leah Ndiema.
“The widow had ploughed the land in February waiting to plant, to the surprise of the villagers, the PS servants forcefully invaded the land and started planting with tractors an issue that attracted the public concern hence raising an alarm from area residents, why should somebody plant in the land that has been ploughed by the owner?” said the human rights activist.
The press release goes further to state that the villagers then responded by chasing away the invaders and in the skirmishes, Mr.Ronald Matui Sungut was killed while Mr.Hillary Laibich and the PS servants escaped with serious injuries.
Bwonya says that Mr. Laibich was admitted at Kitale Hospital.
“The servants abandoned the planting exercise and fled for their dear lives in hot pursuit by the enraged residents,” he said.
He continues, “All along the PS was aware the widow had ploughed the land, how can a whole PS try to plant in the land that he has not ploughed? He is well aware of the land dispute,”.
The land Elgon/Kaptama/53 (87) has a dispute that has been allegedly escalated by the PS, who has an interest and siding with one group of members of the family, comprising of former councillor, a family member and supported by a local Chief.
“It is claimed that he had leased the land from the deceased and that he was in the process of buying the disputed land, the other group of members of the family has accused the area Chief and PS for meddling into the estate of the deceased Mr.Ndiema Cherugut Asking who died on May 11, 2011,” read the statement.
The deceased had five wives with a total of 30 children and other dependants in an estate of more than 325 acres of land and other movable properties in both Bungoma and Trans Nzoia Counties.
Bwonya says that prior to the recent incident, several cases of crop destruction had been reported at Kaptama police station in 2019 and 2020 (OB No. 08/22/04/2020: at 11:21 HRS) with no action taken.
He says that the victims of crop destruction were framed up, arrested and charged at Kimilili law court on June 25, 2020.
Those charged in court included Jonathan Kipyego, Victor Kiptoo, Caren Cheboki, Leonard Kibet, Godfrey Saburi and Collins Chesumba.
The charge sheet read “On the March 17, 2020 at Kaboywo location in Mt.Elgon Sub County within Bungoma County, jointly created a disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace by chasing Ronald Matui while armed with Pangas, an axe and a rungu”.
The lobby group also blamed the OCS Kaptama police station and the Mt. Elgon sub county deputy commissioner Mr.Lameck Odingo for being partisan and facilitating confusion in the administration of justice.
“The deputy county commissioner and the police have been accused of assisting or being partisan by trying to assist the PS to illegally acquire the land from the widow in the pretext of buying it from Ronald Matui, the deceased now and who was one of the administrators to the deceased.
Both Matui (Killed during the skirmishes recently) and the Mr.Laibich are both sons of the deceased and are allegedly said to have sold their land in Trans Nzoia County and had have come to disturb the Widows in Bungoma County.
“Western Kenya Human Rights Watch has been closely following these developments since 2020 when the crops worthy Sh170,430.00 were destroyed and no action was taken by the OCS Kaptama,” said Bwonya.
He added, “This must a catalyst that contributed to the skirmishes that led to the death of former Kinyoro Councillor Mr.Ronald Matui, we call upon the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) of the national police service and the DCI to thoroughly investigate collaboration between the PS livestock and the entire security team in Mt. Elgon sub county,”.
Bwonya appealed to the Bungoma County Commissioner to have all the administrators in Kapsokwony and Kaptama probed for the incident that led to the skirmishes.
“These families have to their offices several times but the administrators failed to handle the issue and instead they allegedly sided with one group die to corruption,” said the Lobby group.
Contacted, Kimtai denied having any hand in the skirmishes that led to the death of one Kenyan nor any involvement in land grabbing saga.
“Please do not fall into this trap of people who don’t have facts. I know you as a person who confirm facts. I urge you not to fall into this trap,” he responded.