A prominent family and a group of farmers are embroiled in a court battle over a prime piece of land measuring about 250 acres in Makuyu, Murang’a County.
The protracted land dispute pitting Margaret Nyokabi Mbugua and her five children against Ng’enda New Farmers society from Gatundu has gone on for more than two decades.
Ms Nyokabi is the widow of Samuel Mbugua Kibathi, who was a renowned businessman and farmer. He died in October 2011.
The widow and her children have sued 1,500 members of the society for intruding on the land, which they maintain is rightfully theirs.
In their plaint, the family wants the court to declare that the land parcel comprising of the old title Makuyu/Kariaini Block 2/1556 and 1541, which gave rise to the new titles lawfully and rightfully belongs to them.
The society on the other hand claims the land is theirs, having bought it from white settlers in 1972. The disputed land is part of a 935-acre piece of land that belongs to the farmer’s society.
While testifying at Murang’a Environment and Land court on Monday, Nyokabi said she and her late husband bought the land from the Kenya Planters Coffee Union (KPCU) in 1994 after the society failed to pay a Sh5 million loan it had been advanced by KPCU.
She told Justice Grace Kemei that her late husband got interested in buying the land after seeing an advert in a local newspaper dated April 27, 1994 by KPCU through auctioneers who were selling the land.
“My husband took a Sh12 million loan from the bank to repay the loan. He agreed with KPCU that for the remaining balance, he would supply coffee that would be deducted until the entire amount was settled,” Nyokabi said.
The widow tabled a draft sale agreement purportedly between her late husband and Ng’enda New Farmers, okeying sale of the disputed land.
“The transaction was that of willing seller willing buyer. We have been occupying the land for more than 30 years,” she said.
She took issue with National Lands Commission Chairman Mohammed Swazuri for declaring the land belonged to the farmers when he toured the expansive farm in November 2016.
New Ng’enda Farmer’s lawyer Ngari Njeru put Nyokabi to task to explain if her husband was once a KPCU director. She told the court KPCU and Coffee Board of Kenya - where her husband was at one time vice-chairman - were two different entities and and her husband could not have had undue advantage in buying the disputed land.
The defendant’s counsel asked her to explain why the draft sale agreement dated August 1, 1995 she had presented to court did not have names of the officials of Ng’enda New Farmers who had allegedly signed to okay the sale.
Nyokabi was also at pains to say why KPCU did not appear in the sale agreement yet she had told the court that the sale was between her husband and KPCU.
The case was adjourned to September 17 when three witnesses from Ng’enda New Farmers will testify.
Ng’enda New Farmers, chairman, Ng’ang’a Kibe, Monica Kabura and Michael Mbugua are named as defendants in the case.