Former president Daniel arap Moi Thursday lost his long-running battle over ownership of a 100-acre farm in Nakuru County, putting at risk the existence of Moi High School Kabarak.
The Supreme Court ended the 10-year court battle after ruling that it had no jurisdiction to overturn the Court of Appeal’s directive that the former president vacates the land or faces eviction.
“The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may not be invoked just merely for appeals, but in matters that raise serious constitutional violations. It is our view that this matter was well settled and does not qualify to be entertained before us,” said the five-judge Bench.
The living quarters of Kabarak University lecturers and Kabarak High School teachers are located on part of the disputed farm, which Mr Moi’s neighbour, Malcolm Bell, says was irregularly taken from him. Part of the farm is also used for growing hay.
The Supreme Court had earlier this year allowed Mr Moi to keep the disputed 100 acre farm, pending its decision on the former president’s application seeking to overturn Court of Appeal ruling.
It further found that the Court of Appeal erred in granting Mr Moi a certificate to lodge an appeal at the Supreme Court, arguing that the dispute did not raise any substantive constitutional violation ground.
The Supreme Court’s ruling means the land has officially reverted to Mr Bell, a rancher who owns over 4,000 acres of the land neighbouring Mr Moi’s Kabarak home.
The university and the school were established during Mr Moi’s 24-year rule. The Supreme Court’s decision means that Mr Moi now faces forceful eviction from the land if he does not comply with the orders to voluntarily vacate the farm.
Mr Bell moved to the High Court in 2003 after Moi left power arguing that he could not have done it earlier because the president enjoyed immunity. Justice Muga Apondi allowed the school to continue occupying the land on the grounds that it had acquired a title deed by adverse possession.
The legal provision on adverse possession allows anyone who occupies a piece of land continuously for more than 12 years without the owner’s permission to claim its ownership.
Mr Bell appealed the decision, and in a judgment delivered in Nakuru last year, Justice Martha Koome and Justice Hannah Okwengu ordered Mr Moi to vacate the land.
The Appeal court queried the manner in which Moi High School Kabarak was transferred from a harambee/public school to private status with Mr Moi as the sponsor.
The judges further found that Mr Moi had reneged on his promise to drill a bore hole, connect electricity and build cattle dip for the Bells in exchange for the 100 acres.
The Appeal court judges rejected the argument that Mr Bell had given the former president the land as a gift ,saying Mr Moi had reneged on his part of the deal.
The Appeal court gave Mr Moi six months to harvest his crop and move out of the farm, failure to which he would be evicted.
The former president was also ordered to bear the costs of the High Court and Appeal cases.
Mr Moi argued through his lawyers that the senior Bell had given him the land as a gift after he dug a bore hole, built a cattle deep and connected the family farm to the national electricity grid.