Court orders State agencies to pay Sh8b for grabbing land

Two families have been awarded Sh8 billion in compensation over illegal acquisition of their land by State agencies.

The High Court in Eldoret ordered Kenya Pipeline Ltd and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to pay the families, who come from Uasin Gishu County, for grabbing their 1,150 acres of land 30 years ago.

Others named in the suit and compelled to pay the compensation are Nathaniel Lagat, a previous co-owner of the land, the Land Commission, now the National Lands Commission, Ministry of Lands and the Director of Survey.

The two families and three other co-owners stated that they purchased 3,236 acres of land in 1977 but part of it was later illegally sub-divided without their consent and allocated to individuals and the two State agencies.

In his land mark ruling, Justice Anthony Ombwayo awarded the estate of Thomas Kipkogei Yator (deceased) Sh3.8 billion for the loss of 546 acres of land. The judge also directed that the estate of William Kimngeny Leting (deceased) be paid Sh 4.1 billion for the loss of 604 acres of land.

The petitioners in their submission had averred that the State agencies had embarked on creation of illegal parcels of land that were allocated as government land to beneficiaries, majority of whom were undeserving, at the expense of the legal owners.

The judge also granted an additional Sh500 million as profit for loss of land use for the last 30 years.

The land is located along the Eldoret-Uganda highway and classified as Block 3 (King’ong’o) that was later sub-divided into 335 parcels. It stretches for about 2.5 kilometres from Huruma estate to Maili Nne.

It was submitted that the land was later renamed Eldoret Municipality Block 15/1 without the consent or knowledge of the registered owners, causing leasing titles  to be surrendered  to the Government.

Quiet enjoyment

The court established that the constitutional rights of the petitioners to own land and have quiet enjoyment had been violated. The families through lawyer Javan Kipnyekwei, had implicated powerful individuals in the past government in the illegal acquisition of their land, saying they decided to seek justice in 2002.

An independent valuer had estimated the value of the prime land at Sh21 billion, which the court stated was reasonable and not controverted.

Lawyer Stephen Kiambi for the defence had argued the suit should be dismissed as it was an after thought, as the land was acquired more than 30 years ago. Uasin Gishu County Land Registrar Dorothy Leting claimed KPA paid Sh1,498,490 through the district commissioner’s office to the land owners. The judge issued 30 days for the parties to appeal the ruling.