The Environment and Lands Court has revoked title deeds to three properties in Lower Kabete, Nairobi, after finding they had been illegally awarded to a private developer.
The properties belong to the Kenya School of Government but had been illegally transferred to a certain Julie Nyawira Mathenge.
Former land commissioners James Raymond Njenga and Wilson Gachanja awarded the properties to Nyawira in 1982 and 1997, the court heard.
Judge Samson Okong’o found that Nyawira had illegally acquired the properties. The judge noted that although Nyawira illegally acquired titles, she never occupied or developed the properties.
“The plaintiff held invalid titles acquired irregularly in violation of the law. It is my conclusion that the plaintiff, having acquired the properties of the costume through an unlawful process, does not have valid titles,” Judge Okong’o ruled.
The judge concluded that there was evidence that Njenga and Gachanja had acted in breach of the trust placed in them as commissioners.
Nyawira had sued the Kenya School of Government (KSG), the Head of Land Registry, the Attorney General and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
On the other hand, the EACC prosecuted her in a case alongside Gachanja. At the same time, the commission filed a second complaint against Nyawira and Njenga even as the battle for properties raged.
In her case before Judge Okong’o, Nyawira claimed that she was awarded the disputed land on June 19, 1981, and was issued a title a year later. She said she wanted to build a gas station, shops, offices and apartments on the land.
At the time of the allotment, Nyawira said, the then land commissioner informed her that the property belonged to KSG but had given it away for commercial development.
The court heard that Nyawira never built a gas station because she was allegedly told the property was too narrow and heavy vehicles delivering fuel would have difficulty turning.
Nyawira said she then applied for two more plots and was allocated government houses which she said were to be demolished by the Ministry of Roads and Public Works.
The two houses were not demolished.
The woman told the court that sometime in 2005 some of the structures were partially destroyed by fire. Following the fire, KSG began reconstruction but ordered the institution to leave.
KSG said the two properties it claimed belonged to it. At the same time, plans to fence the first plot are also thwarted by the institution.
According to her, an official search indicated that the AG had registered disclaimers on the disputed properties on December 23, 1998, on the grounds that they were government properties.
KSG opposed the deal. The institution told Judge Okong’o that the government, in 1961, awarded the properties to it.
He denied handing them over for commercial purposes. The court heard that Gachanja awarded two properties despite protests from KSG.
At the same time, he argued that throughout, KSG leased the properties and buildings to tenants who used them for the benefit of the community.
The school claimed that the titles granted to Nyawira were illegal.
Meanwhile, the EACC has tied the allocation of properties to Gachanja and Njenga. According to the commission, Gachanja awarded two of the disputed properties to Nyawira on or around July 30, 1997.
The anti-corruption agency argued that Gachanja had acted illegally.
The EACC also told the court that Njenga, who was then Lands Commissioner, illegally awarded Nyawira the first property on September 28, 1982.
In his response, Njenga admitted he was a commissioner, but said he had no recollection of any plot of land he had allocated.
He denied that any plot of land was illegally alienated during his tenure.