A court has directed the Nairobi County government and seven owners of a land buying company to explain, in two days, how a plot valued at Sh1.5 billion was transferred from public to private ownership.
The court heard that the government had set aside the land in question for the development of a sewer treatment plant and expansion of sanitary facilities in Nairobi before Renton Company Limited “irregularly” acquired the title.
A petitioner, Mr Jacob Juma, who moved to court under a certificate of urgency has asked that the title be revoked and a permanent injunction issued against any further dealership in the 1600 acres property in Ruai.
“Prior to the transfer and registration of the suit land in favour of the first respondent on April 12, 1996 at 10.25am, the land had been acquired by the government of Kenya and reserved for public purposes and entrusted to the second respondent’s predecessor, (the) City Council of Nairobi, for development of (a) sewer treatment plant and other facilities as part of the implementation of the Nairobi metropolitan growth strategy of 1973, intended to facilitate sustainable city growth and development,” Mr Juma told Justice Weldon Korir.
Through his lawyer Liko Anam, Mr Juma has also sued the Attorney-General, the National Land Commission and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission for not addressing the issue raised.
He claims that “in breach of the intended purpose reservation, the land title was transferred in a manner manifest with corruption, fraud and abuse of public trust.”
“The suit land having been reserved for public purposes under the provision of the Constitution and the Government Land Act, it was not available for alienation.
“The grant in respect of the suit land was registered in favour of the City Council of Nairobi at 9.30am April 12, 1996 and then hurriedly transferred to the first respondent on the same day at 10.25 am,” Mr Juma stated.
INSTRUMENT OF TRANSFER
He said the instrument of transfer between the Nairobi City Council (NCC) and Renton Company limited was entered into on April 10, 1996, “two days before NCC was registered as proprietor of the land, therefore the council could not purport to sell what it did not own.”
“The stamp premium paid by NCC of Sh18,200,000 as confirmed by the collector of Stamp duty in both title deed and transfer instrument was paid on April 11, 1996. However, there is no evidence that the first respondent ever paid the alleged consideration of Sh18,200,000 or even stamp duty for the transaction,” he added.
The court was told that the transfer was conducted in breach of Special condition No. 9 which prohibits the sale, transfer or parting with the possession of the property and which also stipulates that no application for consent of the commissioner of lands could be considered until submissions on the proposed development were undertaken.
“The NCC having only registered the grant in its favour for 55 minutes could not have complied with the special condition,” the petitioner stated.
He said NCC had no power to transfer the land and any purported consents granted by the commissioner were an illegality.
In the petition, Mr Juma accuses the AG, NLC and the anti-corruption agency of turning a blind eye on the breach of law.
The situation as it is, he stated, has been within their knowledge and notice, and in the public domain for over a decade now.
The respondents have been directed to file their defences by February 26, 2015 for an inter-parte hearing.