Trader secretly sells off disputed Sh800 million property

A fight for a multi-million shillings property in downtown Nairobi took a new twist after one of the businessmen involved secretly sold it off.

Elias Waithanji and Joseph Maina have been engaged in a long running court battle for ownership of a five storey building along Cross Road in Nairobi’s Nyamakima area valued at Sh800 million.

The case led to several court orders stopping demolition or sale of the property.

Despite the court injunctions, Maina is said to have secretly sold the property to Hussein Sheikh Ali and Sadiq Hussein Mohamed at a cost of Sh170 million.

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Ali and Mohamed have now applied to be enjoined in the dispute between Waithanji and Maina, arguing that any decision the court makes is likely to affect them.

 “We were not aware that there was a court order stopping the sale and only realised later when we conducted a search that there was a restriction prohibiting the sale. We have direct interest and ready to submit all evidence to help the courts reach a just decision,” said Ali.

Ali stated that the sale agreement with Maina was executed within two days; a few hours after the High Court issued the order stopping the sale.

According to Ali, it was not possible to know the order had been issued and the buyers believed what Maina told them — that the property had no restriction.

“We came to know that the order was issued on December 20, 2017 but we entered the sale agreement on December 22, 2017 when the order had not been registered. We immediately took possession without knowing that there was a caveat,” he swore.

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The new twist emerged nearly two months after Justice Elijah Obaga ruled that Maina had forged the original land owner’s signature and a court order to claim the property’s ownership.

Justice Obaga, in a ruling dated December 22, 2018, stated that the property belonged to Waithanji and allowed him to file for an eviction order against Maina from the premise.

“Maina cannot claim ownership when the alleged sale agreement has been denounced by the original owner. It is clear that he was not acting honestly in his claim having fraudulently obtained a court order which cannot be allowed to stand,” ruled Obaga.

Maina claimed he bought the property in 1987 and only realised it had been taken by Waithanji when he went to the land’s registry to have it registered in his name in 1997.

Asked why he failed to register the property in his name over the years, Maina said the documents relating to the sale agreement were lost, a claim that was dismissed by the court.

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Waithanji on his part stated that he bought the land from Jayendra Kumar Shah and was surprised when Maina invaded the premises and evicted him while claiming that he was a trespasser.

The application by Ali and Mohammed to be enjoined in the dispute is scheduled for hearing on April 7.

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