During a visit by Paul Makonda, the Regional Commissioner of Arusha, Simon Kaaya, the Bwawani Ward Executive Officer, found himself under police custody on allegations of causing land disputes, including unauthorized land sales.

This incident occurred on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, during the continuation of the regional commissioner’s tour aimed at hearing citizens’ grievances and finding solutions.

After inspecting the Bwawani Health Center project, Lucas Samweli came forward to inform Makonda that in January 2002, he was sold a farm inside the Bwawani Village office by an individual who came with their village chairman, but he has not yet been handed over the land.

“On that day, someone came with my village chairman and said there was a farm being sold for 2 million shillings, I went to see it, and I agreed, but because I didn’t have the money, I went to borrow from a group and paid,” said Samwel.

However, he said that after several days, he began clearing the land he had purchased by cutting down the forest.

While he was doing this, he was approached by a municipal officer who told him that the money he paid was not enough and he needed to add another 2 million shillings.

“I told him I didn’t have it, he said I should at least give 1.5 million shillings more, but I still said I didn’t have it,” said Samwel.

As he needed the land, he had to sell six of his cows to raise the additional funds. Despite paying the money, he currently has no rights to the land as he was informed that someone else claims ownership of it.

“I approached the officer to complain, but he assured me that the land was mine, and even if someone else planted beans, I should clear them,” said the citizen.

He said that despite being told this, he did not see it wise to clear them, so he left them and decided to sue various levels of the ward and district, but so far he has not received any assistance.

He claimed that after Kaaya learned of Makonda’s visit to the ward, he called him to his office, wanting him to refund the money he paid to buy the land, but he refused, claiming he had already incurred losses by selling his cows to acquire land.

However, during the dispute resolution process, they discovered that the land sold by the officer was village property and was being used to defraud many people.

He said that the same land had also been sold to another young man named Julias Alex, who was also not allowed to do anything on it.

After these explanations, Makonda called the Chairman of the Bwawani Village, Abduli Nkindi, to respond to the allegations, and he admitted to knowing his constituent.

“Yes, I know this citizen, and he sold land with someone, but there was an additional portion, so the officer told him to add money if he wanted the whole piece for the construction of our village office and health center,” said Nkindi.

However, when Kaaya was asked, he said that the land sold to Lucas was not the same, but he crossed the border, so he was asked to add money.

“He added money to be given more land, but I don’t know where the other dispute came from because I don’t even know that person,” said the official.

When asked by Makonda where he got the authority to sell village land, he failed to answer and hesitated, which prompted shouts from the citizens to have him arrested.

After these shouts, the regional commissioner instructed the Arumeru District Police Commander (OCD) and the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (Takukuru) Chief to arrest Kaaya and conduct an investigation into the allegations quickly.

“I want a report on the progress of this investigation within a week. I do not tolerate thieves, corruption, or incompetence in my leadership; I will deal with them severely,” Makonda emphasized.

Therefore, Kaaya was arrested by officers accompanying the convoy and taken away in their vehicle.