With a single stroke of a pen, rogue officials in the defunct Nairobi City Council alienated public land now worth more than Sh1 billion, transferred it to themselves and sold it to third parties.
And now these individuals will pay the price of holding grabbed land off Ngong Road.
Environment Court judge Samson Okong’o declared Woodley Estate a public utility, which had been illegally transferred for private use and should be repossessed by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
The graft story dates back to 1992. The council had built 210 houses meant to be rented out. Formerly known as Joseph Kang’ethe estate, it was planned and developed as a housing facility, complete with a primary school, playing grounds, public gardens and a shopping centre.
The 34.63-hectare property was estimated then to be worth Sh700 million. Documents filed in court finger council officials who were entrusted with safeguarding the city’s properties in 1992.
It emerges the then director of city planning changed the development plan, which then ushered in the subsequent illegal sale of the spaces and houses in the estate.
The plot to steal was sanctioned by then town clerk and sealed at the Lands Ministry, which approved the change of plan.
The famous Ndung’u Land Report had cited Woodley as among properties that government or local authorities illegally surrendered to private individuals, including serving councilors, provincial administration staff, politicians from the area and “other politically correct honchos” and companies who in turn subdivided it and sold it off to third parties. Woodley houses were sold off to unsuspecting buyers at Sh1.1 million each. A team of investigators, led by Francis Njeru Mwaniki, interviewed, among others, then minister William ole Ntimama, former town clerk Ziporrah Wandera and then director of legal affairs Mary Ng’ethe.
Ntimama said he was not aware that Woodley had changed hands and denied authorising its transfer and the two council officials equally distanced themselves from the transaction.
Mwaniki, who was a witness in court, said Woodley estate was subdivided and new leases were granted by the Lands ministry without any valid council resolution and without a green light from the then commissioner of lands.
“Investigations established that the leases granted by the council were made in excess of the council’s statutory authority,” he testified.
Curiously, the registrar of titles proceeded to issue titles despite a caveat being placed by the council.
Former county clerk JM Mbugua had on September 14, 1999 nullified the sale and issued a public notice the following day.
This sparked a court battle, with third owners arguing they were not aware that the estate had been illegally sold off.
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