Kenya’s first Vice-President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his son Oburu Oginga have been listed among top land rate defaulters in Kisumu County.
The Kisumu Land Taskforce says the county government is owed more than Sh 15 billion in land rates.
On Friday, the Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o-led county government published a list of 581 land rate defaulters comprising companies and individual owners.
And on Saturday, the taskforce’s Secretary Nicholas Migot confirmed that the late Vice-President, who is registered as Ajuma Oginga Odinga, Dr Oginga — his elder son, and Catholic Church Archbishop Zacheus Bishop Okoth are among the defaulters on the list.
“They are required to pay or the parcels of land are repossessed so that investors can have enough space for development,” Mr Migot said.
In the list published in a local daily by Kisumu County Secretary Olang’o Onudi, Ajuma Oginga Odinga, the owner of Kisumu Bloc 12/222, owes the county Sh7,774,099, while Dr Oginga owes the devolved unit Sh 295,743. His land is marked as Kisumu Bloc 7/509.
The archbishop is listed as the owner of Kisumu Bloc 10/86 with arrears of Sh1,771,933. Also in the list is former Cabinet Minister Peter Oloo Aringo. He owes the county Sh447 million.
The defaulters are required to clear their arrears by December 21.
But Mr George Weda, the former chairman of the task force who also served in the defunct municipal council of Kisumu as a councillor, noted that the late Jaramogi among other unnamed individuals had been exempted from payment by the defunct authorities “due to what they had done in the society.”
“During my time as a councillor that was the resolution made. It touched on Jaramogi because of his status and contribution to the society,” said Mr Weda.
But on Sunday, members of the Odinga family accused the county government of playing politics with the land rates issue.
Jaramogi’s son Omondi Odinga said they had read a sinister motive in the publication as “we were not served with prior notice.”
“This is political. It is like somebody wants to portray the Odinga family negatively. This is very bad,” Mr Omondi said. He concurred with Mr Weda that a resolution had been made by the defunct municipal council to waiver the charges on Jaramogi’s parcel of land.
“We discussed it in the last council and there was a resolution made to that effect. It was agreed that based on Jaramogi’s activities towards development in this community, the charges be waived,” said Mr Omondi.
Jaramogi’s daughter and former Kisumu Deputy Governor Ruth Odinga said it was unfortunate that Governor Nyong’o’s administration could publish a list of land rate defaulters including her late father. “I work in the county government yet nobody, including the County Secretary who placed the advert in the newspaper, approached me over this issue. This, I believe was made in bad taste,” she said.
On Sunday, Mr Weda said the published list was faulty.