By Lorna Abuga.
A Nakuru journalist has been interrogated by detectives following a post he published on social media challenging land grabbing in the country.
Elijah Kinyanjui a veteran journalist who has worked with almost all leading newspapers in the country was quizzed on Tuesday last week for an ‘open letter’ he wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta and which he published on a Whatsup group page he runs dubbed ‘Nakuru Analysts’.
In the letter dated June 2 Kinyanjui lamented that
“Nakuru had been fraudulently taken over by strangers”.
He went to complain that there was a rising trend on the takeover of public land by people who we have come to refer as ‘private developers’.
Kinyanjui was responding to an incident in which land said to be belonging to a public school in Naka area was allegedly grabbed by unknown persons.
Together with other members of the Whatsapp group Kinyanjui had visited the school where they met the head teacher. No sooner had they visited than pupils of the school brought down a wall that had been erected around a piece of land whose ownership is believed to be in dispute. But even so, the private developer went ahead and started building the wall afresh.
“We don’t have a problem with developers investing in the county however they should not take advantage of unused public land by bribing government officials in order to obtain title deeds,”
Kinyanjui told Kenya Monitor after his day with detectives.
He said that he had been told some of the issues he highlighted in the open letter to President Kenyatta were defamatory.
“The CID officers told me that some of the statements in the letter were out to defame former Nakuru Mayor (Mohammed Suraw),” he said.
“They forced me to make a confession that I was the one who posted the story on social media after they failed to retrieve the message from my phone,”
he said adding that the police had taken away his phone for “forensic investigation”.
He however refused to record a statement on the same.
“My human rights were violated owing to the fact that the officers in charge had already came up with a charge sheet before interrogating me and thereby they had already predetermined that I was guilty,” he said.
Kinyanjui is not new to controversy and court cases. A while back the Nakuru Assembly Speaker Susan Kihika and Clerk Joseph Malinda took him to court claiming he had defamed them on social media.
Apart from the Whatsapp group, Kinyanjui runs a Facebook page on which he publishes updates on topical issues in the county. It is on this page that he is said to have published the statements that got him in bad books with Speaker Kihika and Clerk Malinda.
Through the Nakuru Analysts Whatsapp page he has managed to lobby other residents to push for public participation in the county aimed at keeping devolution on track. The group even visited Machakos County a while back to bench mark.
“Some counties like Machakos have benefited from devolution because the projects meant to benefit the common mwananchi are evident and that is why as a lobby group we are saddened by the fact that few individuals are out to make wealth from public land which was set aside for schools, bus terminals and hospitals.”
“There is need for the common mwananchi to be sensitized on their watchdog role so as make the leaders accountable when handling public property because of the rise of land grabbing cases country wide,” he added.