MCAs accused of deserting oversight role

BY DAVID MUCHUI
MERU TOWN

Members of County Assemblies in parts of the country have been accused of abdicating their oversight role and instead engaging in responsibilities of the executive.

Speaking during a workshop organized by Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW), an NGO, to evaluate the performance of women MCAs in Meru County, various community leaders raised concern over the MCAs’ involvement in development projects.

Mr John Ngari a community leader in Tigania East said that MCAs in Meru are doing well on representation and legislation but scoring too low on oversighting the county executive.

“Most MCAs have become bedfellows with the executive because there is no active opposition. I have seen an MCA who has been awarded a tender to provide transport and supply materials in a market construction project. They cannot implement projects and oversight themselves,” Ngari claimed.
He lamented that the prevailing conflict of interests may derail development and lack of accountability in the County.

Mr. Silas Gitije, a Njuri Ncheke elder said there is need for the County government to enhance civic education to enable the public know where to seek services.

“The people are unaware that the implementers of development projects are in the executive and mostly blame MCAs. We need a lot of civic education so that the people can lay blame on the right office,” Mr Gitije said.
CREAW assistant Programme officer Ndegwa Mwangi said that the MCAs’ meddling into implementation of projects is overriding on their oversight role.

“We have seen MCAs creating Ward development funds which they intend to control. This is against the constitution which assigns them with representation, oversight and legislation. Matters of implementation must be wholly left to the executive,” Mwangi said.
He urged MCAs to pass the public participation bill to enable the public fully participate in development of their counties.

Widowed women giving a new lease of life to needy children

 Members of Athwana Ngwataniro Widows self help group distribute snacks to children during one of their monthly meetings


Members of Athwana Ngwataniro Widows self help group distribute snacks to children during one of their monthly meetings

BY DAVID MUCHUI
TIGANIA EAST

A group of women and over 100 children gather at an open field near Athwana Chief’s Camp in Mikinduri, Tigania East Sub County for their monthly widows and orphans get together.

Athwana Ngwataniro Widows self help group raises money through merry go round to raise and educate over 30 orphans and HIV positive children in a group of over 160 needy children.

According to Mr John Kobia, the Assistant Chief for Athwana Sub location, the group has done so much in eradication of HIV/AIDS stigma in the area.

“This area had been hardly hit by HIV/AIDS and due to lack of information; many people were suffering in secret. When the women approached me with the idea of coming together, I encouraged them to do so. Their initiative has paid dividends to many especially to orphaned and sick children,” Kobia says.
He says that the women have been able to engage the community to embrace those living with HIV as well taking part in supporting the needy children.

Most of the children who had lost their parents to the HIV/AIDS had been left with their grandparents who cannot adequately fend for them and support their education.
“As a result, many children in the area were leaving school and becoming idlers. The sick ones could not afford a balanced diet and the right medication,” says Cecillia Mwathathi, the group Secretary.

Ms Mwathathi says that they established the group in 2008 to cater for the welfare of persons living with HIV/AIDS through a merry go round before they noticed greater need in the community.
“Our Chairlady went round looking for widows whose spouses had died from HIV/AIDS. We supported each other through the merry go round contributions. After two years, we realized that many orphaned children were suffering,” she recounts.

The Secretary says that they immediately organized HIV testing for all children where 12 children tested positive.
“Some parents were hiding their sick children but we convinced them to give them their rights. We have been able to help the children get the necessary medication when it is needed. Other children do not discriminate them,” Mwathathi says.

Ms Jennifer Mukiri, who is blind and a member of Athwana Ngwataniro group recounts how many orphaned children were turning to begging around the village.
“We realized that children whose parents had passed away were leaving school and had to rely on good neighbors to get a meal. They would go round the village to get food. They could not remain in school due to lack of uniform and fees,” Mukiri says.
She notes that despite many challenges, as many of them are not well endowed, they have been able to take the needy children back to school.

“We bring the children together once every month where we eat together and encourage them to work hard.
Besides, the group has managed to buy a rabbit and chicken for every child under the program to enable them earn money from sales.
“We realized that children who live with their grandparents need a source of income. They feed their rabbits after school and can earn some income to support their basic needs,” the secretary explains.

Dorcas Mugure, a beneficiary of the project and lives with her grandmother says that she could not go to school due to lack of food and school uniform.
“The women group has been of great help to me because I can now attend school comfortably,” Mugure, a class five pupil says.

Newton Mutwiri, a pupil at St Benedict Primary in Mikinduri says: “When they came to my help, I had no school uniform. Many times I could not get lunch and I had to go back to school on an empty stomach. But all is well now; I have peace of mind in school.”
The group Chairlady Margaret Kaberia says that she was inspired to start the group by her desire to eradicate problems affecting women in the community.

“We are pleased that we have been able to put them back to school. But supporting the sick children is a challenge because it is very expensive. If we can get a children’s home where they can learn from, it will greatly reduce our burden,” Mrs Kaberia says.
The women are now seeking support from well wishers and organizations to enable them educate the children in higher education since all are in primary school.

Corrupt land committees frustrating access to Title Deeds

Tigania West Land Officer Martin Odhiambo addressing Journalists. He said over 50,000 land owners in Tigania West will receive title deeds this year.

Tigania West Land Officer Martin Odhiambo addressing Journalists. He said over 50,000 land owners in Tigania West will receive title deeds this year.

By DAVID MUCHUI
Tigania West

Residents of Uringu two Adjudication section in Tigania West have called on land officers to reign in on corrupt land committee members to enable them receive title deeds.

Speaking at Nchung’ari village during the election of new land committee members after disbandment of the former committee on corruption allegations, the residents lamented that most of land disputes in the area are a creation of unscrupulous committee members.

One of the affected residents Mr Moses Mwiti said that his family has been impoverished by a land dispute perpetrated by a committee member in 1967.

“The committee members transferred a piece of land and placed it on my grandfather’s land. My grandfather has been following up the matter until he grew too old to move. I have now taken up the chase yet there seems to be no hope,” Mwiti said.

He lamented that the dispute led to the demolition of their family houses early this year hence they are living in fear of losing their land to grabbers.

“We want to elect new committee members because the former committee has run us into the mud. The committee had turned into a dynasty where if a member died he was informally replaced by the son. This was a way of covering up their parents’ corrupt ways,” he claimed.

Mr Patrick Mworia who is also a victim of corrupt dealings by committee members says he has taken up the fight to save his grandfather’s 33 acres of land in a dispute that dates back to 1970.

“The land committees have brewed a lot of problems since we started land gathering in the early 1970s. My grandfather almost lost the land because the land committee chairman was a brother to the opponent,” Mworia claimed.

Tigania West Land Officer Martin Odhiambo said that the office is in the process of finalizing field queries to enable land owners receive title deeds by the end of the year.

“The cabinet Secretary for lands has given us targets of submitting over 50,000 records for issuance of title deeds per year. We are working on a crush programme to enable us meet the targets.
We urge residents to give information of any corrupt land officer or committee members for appropriate action and fast-track the process,” Odhiambo said.

He said that about 54,000 title deeds are expected to be issued to residents of Tigania West in the next one year. The president had pledged to issue over 100,000 title deeds in the Nyambene region this year.

Tigania West MP David Karithi lamented that the adjudication process has been ongoing since the 1960s yet residents have never received title deeds.

“We were expecting over 100,000 title deeds this year but this has been hampered by disputes among land owners. We want to support the new committee through crash programmes to ensure we conclude the process in the next three months.
I urge the people to put aside disputes to enable land officers conclude the process in time,” Karithi said.

The Legislator noted that some of the committee members have served for about 30 years yet they have not been able to settle disputes.

Timau set for digital integrated strategic urban development plan

Aerial View of part of Timau town. PHOTO/Peakshows

Aerial View of part of Timau town. PHOTO/Peakshows

By DAVID MUCHUI
Residents of Timau town and its environs have been urged to cooperate with the County government in an ongoing exercise to prepare a development plan for the town.
Speaking during a public forum on the integrated strategic urban development plan at Timau market, Meru County Chief Officer for Land Martin Gikunda said the integrated strategic urban development plan will cover from Likii to Timau town and its environs.
“The planning of Timau has been central in the programmes of the County government. We will prepare a digital topographical map that can be accessible to investors online all over the world. This is expected to attract investors and stir growth just like Naivasha,” Gikunda said.
He noted that Timau town has potential for growth if it is well planned adding that it can open opportunities for industrial development.
Gikunda said that once the plan is complete it will guide all developments in the town depending on designation such as industrial, commercial or residential.
The Chief Officer said the plan will include a fresh produce market at Likii near Nanyuki town to ensure the county benefits from revenue collections as opposed to the current situation where farmers sell their produce in Laikipia County.
Mr Mutuma Mbui, a Physical planner in charge of the programme noted that planning is a cornerstone for development in any area.
“Failure to plan our towns and land has been the root cause of problems we are facing as a country. The constitution now recognizes physical planning as a key driver of development. We must plan our land to live up to the Vision 2030,” Mbui said.
He noted that the town has potential to become an investment hub and a tourist attraction centre due to its proximity to agricultural estates and Mt Kenya.
Timau Ward MCA Geoffrey Kinoti said that the town residents have an opportunity to improve their business environment once the exercise is complete.
“We have not had a chance to develop an integrated plan for Timau town. The County government of Meru has cited Timau as one of key towns and gateways to Meru hence the need for it to be put in order. There is so much potential in Timau which can be tapped through proper planning,” Kinoti said.
He said the exercise to be carried out by a private consultant and government physical planning officers is set to change the face of Timau town for better.
“We need to plan our town early in preparation to keep in line with the Vision 2030 blue print. This exercise will ensure we reclaim road reserves, other public land and standardize plots allocated to people. I urge those who have settled on road reserves to cooperate for the benefit of all,” he remarked.
He noted that presence of squatters has been one of the challenges facing the town and assured them that the county and national governments is looking into their settlement.
“We have requested for funds to resettle the squatters across the County. I assure the squatters in Timau that we will ensure they get a plot in Timau town during the planning process,” said the MCA.
Expressing similar sentiments, Kisima Ward MCA Joy Karambu said that the town planning process will help address the problem of squatters in Timau as well as other parts of the County.
“We have squatter in Machaka, Timau, Subuiga, Ruiri and other parts of Meru. We cannot continue to watch yet there is enough land to settle these people. We urge the people to cooperate with the planning committee for smooth running of the process,” Karambu said.
Buuri Sub County Administrator Carol Mutiga said the exercise is intended to benefit the residents and attract investors from all parts of the Country.
Residents called for their inclusion throughout the process to avert unnecessary friction and help address existing challenges.
The planning process is dubbed Digital topographical mapping and preparation for the integrated strategic urban development plan of Timau Township.
ENDS…

Mlolongo system questioned in women elections

By DAVID MUCHUI

Maendeleo ya Wanawake elections in Meru County were carried out at Kinoru Stadium amidst outcries of irregularities and misconduct from a section of members.
At one time, there was booing and jeering as rival groups sought to show their tyranny of numbers while at other times the groups broke into song, dance and ululation in a controversial ‘Mlolongo’ voting system.
Imenti North Chairlady Catherine Kinoti decried the County election as a rubberstamping exercise adding that she had been left out of the election despite being nominated to contest.
“People should use secret ballot, Mlolongo voting system is outdated. No one even knows the people who were queuing here because their papers have not been scrutinized. The election has been done but it is not free and fair,” Mrs Kinoti said.
Mrs Susan Kinyua from Tigania East claimed that some of the candidates have been elected without paying the requisite nomination fee.
“Some of the elected leaders were not nominated candidates according to Maendeleo ya Wanawake Constitution. I feel that this election should be nullified because they have not followed the set out rules,” Mrs Kinyua said.
Mr Martin Kinyua, an observer declared the elections unfair saying that some who had paid nomination fees had been left out.
“We are in a time when women know how to read and write hence Mlolongo system is misplaced. There was accumulation in queuing which I think does not exist in bylaws of any organization,” Kinyua said.
However, the County Secretary elect Lucy Mukaria said that the Maendeleo ya Wanawake constitution gives room for secret ballot or Mlolongo hence terming the exercise fair.
The Chairlady elect Kanana Nteere said those discrediting the election had failed in grass root elections.
“Only those who were elected in the sub counties and have the papers were allowed to vote here. The election was peaceful, free and fair according to the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Constitution,” Kanana said.
She pledged to transform the organization through uniting all women in the County and engaging them in civic education to enable them take lead in development.
The women also vowed to deal a final blow to the Female Genital Mutilation vice in the County. “We understand there are some few pockets in Meru where FGM is practiced. We will fight this vice by educating our girls and women because some do it out of ignorance,” the secretary elect said.
The women vowed to engage the county and national governments to ensure that resources allocated to women benefit them.
ENDS…

Police gun down suspect in Dr Obiri murder

The car belonging to the late Dr Obiri at the scene where he was murdered

The car belonging to the late Dr Obiri at the scene where he was murdered

By DAVID MUCHUI
Police in Meru town have gunned down a suspect who they said is behind the killing of a Surgeon in Meru and recovered a rifle while his two accomplices escaped.
The suspect was gunned down inside a restaurant at Makutano Shopping centre where he was said to have taken cover in an attempt to engage the police in a shoot out before he was gunned down.
Hundreds of curious onlookers milled outside the restaurant where the suspect was shot dead as they sought to get a glimpse of him.
Imenti North OCPD Tom Odero said that the suspect known as Dennis Mwirigi alias JJ was being tracked down by police and has been using the Mobile phone belonging to the late Dr Albert Obiri.
“We have been tracking the suspect and today they had planned to commit a crime in Meru town. They were identified and the one who has been gunned down noticed the police and attempted to lure them into the restaurant.
He took cover and attempted to shoot but our officers were swift enough to eliminate him. A firearm has been recovered from him,” Odero said.
He said that police officers are still pursuing other two suspects and looking for the phone which was in the hands of the suspect.
“This suspect up to today morning has been using the late Dr Obiri’s phone. He has had a murder case in court over the killing of nine people in Nkubu. He was released in March and went back to terrorize the people,” he said.
The OCPD urged the public to work with the police in identifying criminals to help fight insecurity.
Imenti North Deputy County Commissioner Jim Njoka who was at the scene urged the public to make use of the Nyumba Kumi initiative and volunteer information to the police.
“We are aware that the whole world is watching world cup. We are appealing to bar owners to operate within the law. Don’t lock patrons in the bars beyond 11pm because they will provide a fertile ground for crimes. We assure of our commitment to provide security,” Mr Njoka said.
The late Dr Obiri, a surgeon at Meru Level Five Hospital was hijacked, killed and his body dumped near Naari forest in Buuri Sub County.
There has been an outcry over rising insecurity in Meru town and its environs following a trail of killings in the last one month.
Medics at Meru Level Five Hospital and Health workers unions’ national leaders have protested over the killings of two doctors demanding increased security.
North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood had also called for transfer of the local security officers following the rise of insecurity. The body of the suspect was removed to Meru Level Five Hospital Mortuary.

 

Dr Mbogo laid to rest as leaders decry insecurity

By DAVID MUCHUI
North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood has called for the overhaul of security apparatus in Meru town over what he said is the rise of insecurity in the area.
Speaking during the burial service of the late Dr Ashford Mbogo at Kambakia Christin Centre Church, Rahim said he may call for demonstrations against security chiefs if no step is taken to beef up security.
“The chain of killings that have taken place within Meru town show that we have a problem with the security apparatus. The national government should change the security officers who are on the ground. We need a change of guard to improve security,” Rahim said.
He said that the loss the late Dr Mbogo and the late Dr Albert Obiri to armed gangs points to laxity on security and called for transfer of officer who have been serving for over three years.
Expressing similar sentiments, Bishop Edward Buria of the Kambakia Christian Centre who led the funeral service, said he would support demonstrations if security is not boosted in the county.
“If we do not see a change of things in this county, I will join the area MP in asking people to demonstrate,” Bishop Buria said.
Meanwhile, Rahim called on the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and CORD leaders to call off their political rallies following the Mpeketoni killings.
“Jakoyo Midiwo’s remarks that they will go on with their rallies regardless of the Mpeketoni killings is not the right way to go. Let them think of the country first. It is not the right time to push for political rallies,” the MP said.
Rahim said that the former PM should hold his horses and wait for 2017 general elections.
The late Dr Mbogo was an eye specialist at Meru Level Five Hospital and was laid to rest at his home in Kinoru, Imenti North.
He was shot dead last week by three assailants who accosted him near his home as he left for work in the morning.

Mau Mau veterans hopeful of second compensation by UK

By DAVID MUCHUI
Mau Mau veterans in Meru have expressed confidence that the British government will compensate those who were left out in the payments made last year after the Mau Mau war veterans association received pay outs to the tune of Sh2.6 billion.
According to Meru-Kirimara-Mutuma Association Chairman Samuel M’Mwirichia, they expect over 2,000 of their members to receive compensation incase the case filed in London is ruled in their favor.
Mr Gikunda Miriti an advocate representing the Mau Mau veterans in the litigation being handled by Tandem Law firm in the UK said proper vetting has been done to ascertain genuine Mau Mau fighters.
“The litigation is in advanced stages and screening of Mau Mau veterans from all over the country been done. We believe those who were left out in the June 2013 compensations will be paid,” Miriti said.
According to Tandem Law, the lead solicitor for the Mau Mau war veterans, the claimants were to present their claims to the lead solicitor before 30th April 2014 to be included in the Kenyan Emergency Group Litigation.
Those who qualified to seek compensation must have had a claim arising from events in Kenya between 20th October 1952 and 12 December 1963.
“You must have suffered some form of mistreatment during the time period indicated. The mistreatment must have been inflicted by or on behalf of the State, whether British or Kenyan. You must be prepared to give a witness statement and have a Kenyan Identity Card,” reads a statement from Tandem Law.
M’Mwirichia said that they expect to be compensated because they were left out when others were compensated.
“We know that over 5,000 Mau Mau veterans were compensated last year but we were left out. We wonder what procedure was used to identify those paid. But we have filed our case and we expect pay anytime. We are looking forward to an out of court settlement,” M’Mwirichia said.
Tandem Law are the lead solicitors in the Group Litigation Order while Cecil Miller Advocates are representing Tandem Law in Kenya. Other solicitors are GT Law and Knights Law in the UK.
In case the case is won, the claimant will get 100 percent pay as the advocates are to be paid by the losing party under no win no fee arrangement.

Igoji Church service turns chaotic

By Ciameru

Drama ensued at Mukuune East African Pentecostal Church (EAPC), at Igoji on Sunday as two rival camps of worshippers engaged in running battles over the disputed church building.

Two rival pastors stood on the pulpit and each led his followers in a chaotic service.

Worshippers from each camp sought to outwit each other in song, prayer and drum beating as residents watched in dismay.

Police officers from Ntharene Police post intervened and dismissed the worshippers before locking the building.

The demonic drama attracted onlookers with business in some neighboring churches coming to a standstill as they watched the drama unfold.

Rev Stephen Nkando, the General overseer Igoji district said they had planned a cleansing service before their rivals came in leading to the chaotic events.

Rev Nkando accused the police of failing to guard the church has directed by a court order.

He said the rival camp is led by a former General Secretary of the EAPC Church, Geoffrey Muthinja.

The church has been embroiled in disputes for several years now.

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