NLC cannot hear complaints on private land ownership, court declares

National Lands Commission Chairman Prof. Mohammed Swazuri addressing Journalists at Duka Moja in Narok East. [File, Standard]
The High Court has barred the National Land Commission from handling disputes between two private individuals.

In a suit where a private firm is fighting to keep Sh77 million land whose ownership is disputed by former freedom fighter Fred Kubai’s family, the court ruled that NLC has no role to interrogate or review complaints in private land ownership rows.

According to Justice Dalmas Omondi, the law confines the Mohammad Swazuri-led commission to public land.

“While I agree that the respondent can in its review mandate inquire into a grant of public land to an individual, nowhere in the law is the respondent given mandate to review a grant from one private individual to another,” ruled Justice Omondi.

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The commission had argued that it had powers to review grants touching on all lands and that it had received a complaint from Kubai’s family that the land had irregularly changed hands.

Dispute's genesis

At the heart of the dispute is Comply Industries Limited. The firm bought the land in Njoro, Nakuru County, from former Agricultural Development Authority (ADC) boss Walter Kiprono Kilele’s family in 2008.

Kilele died in a road accident in 1998.

In 2016, Kubai’s daughter, Sidi Rose Kubai, raised a complaint with NLC claiming that her father had a stake in the land. According to Sidi, Kubai had obtained 21 per cent stake in the land on February 11, 1965 and transferred this to his family-run company, Kubai Investments Limited on June 21, 1974.

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Kubai died on June 1, 1996.

According to Sidi, the family discovered the land had been transferred to Kilele sometime in 1982 without the consent of all shareholders.

Comply Limited had moved to court arguing that the resolution by NLC to review Kubai family’s complaint was beyond its powers.

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National Land CommissionHigh CourtMohammed Swazuri