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The pupils together with activists were protesting the alleged grabbing of the school?s playground.

The President was furious over the failure by Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu and the National Lands Commission Chairman Mohamed Swazuri to solve the dispute that had been ?boiling? for weeks.

President Kenyatta turned his anger on the Lands ministry, insisting that both Ms Ngilu and Dr Swazuri must be held accountable for mishandling the matter that culminated in the riots.

Uhuru criticised police officers who fired tear gas at the innocent children and said the school?s head teacher should also answer questions over the incident.

?I am disappointed at what happened at the Lang?ata Road Primary School. Where were the officials from the Ministry of Lands and the National Land Commission? The issue has been there since December. Why didn?t they act then?? he asked.

He added: ?We will begin to take action against Government officials who fail in their mandates.?

Uhuru was speaking at the Kenyatta International Conventional Centre (KICC) when he launched the Kenya Foreign and Diaspora policy.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery visited the school and apologised to pupils for the brutal action by anti-riot police.

Mr Nkaissery gave the private developer a 24-hour ultimatum to vacate the site.

?The children were innocent. I don?t expect a trained police officer to throw tear gas at such children because this gives a wrong picture, like that of South Africa?s Soweto apartheid era,? said Nkaissery.

DEVELOPER CAUTIONED

He added: ?I was shocked to see how police officers threw tear gas at the pupils. I offer my apology to the pupils for what happened here and assure the school the land is theirs. We are giving the developer until tomorrow (Wednesday) to collect his bricks because the ground will be levelled on Thursday to allow the children play.?

Five pupils and a police officer were injured as the officers lobbed tear-gas canisters at the children and the activists accompanying them.

And Monday afternoon Ngilu led a delegation that included Swazuri, Education PS Belio Kipsang and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to re-affirm that the plot belongs to the school.

But despite the visit, there were still lingering questions like who are the directors of Airport View Estate, which has claimed the land adjacent to Weston Hotel and fenced it off.

Why was the land guarded by police in advance? Is there a connection between the disputed land and Weston Hotel? How did the developer get the title deed for the school land?

?We fenced our plot (Weston Hotel) seven years ago and have absolutely no interest in the disputed plot,? one of Weston Hotel?s directors Patrick Osero told The Standard.

?On Friday we visited the school and we want to reaffirm that the land belongs to the school. Before our visit, we had documents indicating that it is public land,? Swazuri has said.

He added: ?There is no way a person could have allocated the land in 1989 and issued it with the allotment letter in 1994. The documents to that effect were fake,? added the NLC chairman.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday said: ?However greedy, acquisitive and heartless we may be, we surely can stand up for the children. After all, they are the people we are guarding the nation for? Somebody must be held accountable for this primitive and shameful action.?

Dr Kidero whose administration had approved construction of a mall in the disputed plot, Monday had a different story, insisting that his officers were duped by documents provided that later turned out to be fake.

?A re-examination of the documents will reveal that they are fake,? Kidero said, adding that he will take action on officers who hurriedly approved the development in December last year.

?The school was allocated the land in 1972. The Airport View Housing Company acquired their title deed in 1995. We will summon Airport View directors to come and explain how they acquired the title deed,? Swazuri said.

Lang?ata OCPD Elijah Mwangi who led the assault on the children and activists has been suspended until investigations into the matter are completed.

By GEOFFREY MOSOKU, The Standard

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