Kenyatta's step-brother vows to fight on for 3.5 acres of land

"I will fight to the bitter end," vowed Peter Mungai Ngengi, 88.

Ngengi is embroiled in a land tussle with the First Family. Recently, the court dismissed his claim on three and a half acres of land in Ichaweri, Gatundu – the rural home of Kenya's founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. But he has vowed to appeal the ruling.

Poor and dejected, Ngengi is however not your ordinary villager. According to suit papers, the octogenarian is Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's stepbrother – by extension President Uhuru's uncle.

When The Standard on Sunday visited him in his Munyu village home in Thika for an interview following the court ruling, the old man was not even aware that he had lost the case.

"I'm not aware of the judgment. My son who normally follows the matter is admitted in hospital and my lawyer is yet to contact me to inform me of the court verdict," Mungai told The Standard on Sunday.

In the suit, Mama Ngina Kenyatta is named as the first respondent; President Uhuru Kenyatta is the second respondent while the Attorney General is the third respondent.

Uhuru's name was, however, struck out when he became Kenya's fourth President. Chapter 9, Article 143 of the Constitution of Kenya (2010) gives a sitting President immunity against legal proceedings.

Justice Joseph Onguto struck out the case on April 20, 2015, saying the petitioner did not submit any evidence to prove ownership of the land.

Mama Ngina Kenyatta's lawyer Wainaina Ireri and the Attorney General had both filed a notice of preliminary objection to the suit on October 8, 2014 on grounds that the claim was time barred under the Limitations of Actions Act Cap 22 of the Laws of Kenya. The Act prohibits a person from suing on a land matter after 12 years.

Speaking to The Standard on Sunday, Ngengi's lawyer Kinuthia Wandaka said he had already filed a notice of appeal in court adding that he would be filing the appeal tomorrow.

"My client will be moving to the court of appeal since he was not given an opportunity to be heard. His case was dismissed on a mere technicality and he was denied a chance to be heard through oral submission of evidence in court and a chance to test it through cross-examination," Mr Wandaka said.

The judge upheld the preliminary objection and dismissed the suit as it was time barred.

Ngengi moved to court in 2012 alleging that he was wrongly and without consent been deprived of his three and a half acres piece of land in Ichaweri, Gatundu land reference number Ngenda/Kimunyu/982 by the late Jomo Kenyatta in collusion with the Ministry of Lands.

The petitioner alleged his land was wrongly alienated and granted to Jomo Kenyatta by the Ministry of Lands without any right to compensation being made to him which he said offends section 75(1) of the Constitution. The section provides that a person cannot take another person's land without full compensation.

"... the late Jomo Kenyatta and the Ministry of Lands caused my land to be merged into one big piece of land now known as land reference number Ngenda/Kimunyu/982 to make home for the founding father and popularly known as 'Ikulu' or Gatundu home of Jomo Kenyatta," reads part of the petition filed before the court.

The petitioner further alleged that the third petitioner proceeded to transfer the said land to Jomo Kenyatta without any regard to the subsisting rights of the petitioner.

In a supporting affidavit, the petitioner alleged that after the death of his father Ngengi Mungai in 1965, Kenyatta gave orders that before their father's body was lowered into the grave the beacons dividing his land and that of the former president be uprooted.

"I protested against the unfair action and declared that if Kenyatta wanted to kill me let him do it, I would not give up on my land. I was ready to die and be buried with my father. I then went and put the beacons back to their rightful positions," reads part of the affidavit.

The petitioner claims in the affidavit that shortly after his father's burial, Kenyatta went on a trip to Mombasa and left orders that the beacons dividing his land with that of his step-brother which he had placed back to their original positions be removed and his family be arrested and taken to Gatundu in the colonial prison.

Mungai alleges that he and his family were transported to the prison, whose compound today houses Gatundu Hospital, and his house on the suit property demolished. They, he alleges, lived there for a year under the watch of armed soldiers.

He further claims that when Kenyatta visited to inspect progress of the hospital project, he bumped into one of his children who called him father as they used to call him.

After he left for home, Kenyatta allegedly ordered the district officer to take the materials of the demolished house which had been lying in his office and get prisoners to build for Ngengi a house at Mutomo on a government plot.

He claims that one morning in 1968, a prison lorry and the district officer's official car drove into their home. Allegedly, the truck ferried a good number of prisoners who disembarked and demolished the family hovel.

"I knew I was defeated and my heart sighed in a state of despair. I wished I died when my father died. All my freedom fighter audaciousness was gone. The freedom fighter warrior in me was wiped out," the petitioner says in his affidavit.

He claims in the affidavit that it took him a lot of persuasion to the district officer to have mercy on him and get him somewhere he could settle his family.

"It was God who touched the district officer and he agreed to settle me in Munyu. I had to make a promise to the administrator that I would never again be heard talking about that land in Gatundu," he says in the affidavit.

But in his replying affidavit before he was struck out of the proceedings, Uhuru said Mungai's allegations were new to him.

"The first respondent and I are total strangers to the allegations. The land was at all material times rightfully owned and registered in the name of the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta pursuant to a certificate of title issued on or about March 19, 1963," he said. He said that after Mzee died in August, 1978, the land was transferred to his wife Mama Ngina.

Uhuru in the affidavit terms the petition as frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process adding that it should be dismissed with costs.