KU land row: Council says government's interference unlawful

KU Vice-Chancellor Paul Wainaina during a briefing to students at the university. [Esther Jeruto, Standard]

The Kenyatta University Council has now termed a decision by the Government to take over part of its land unlawful.

The council, in  a letter dated July 5, 2022, adamantly said it will not be acceding to the request by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua to surrender the title deed of the said piece of land.

“The council is concerned that your request to surrender the title deed of the subject parcel to be excised in a manner that is not clear at all. The Council would hesitate to allow such surrender and warns itself, again of its responsibility as custodian of the University land charged with the duty to protect and preserve the same,” Council Chairman Prof Shem Adholla noted.

In its letter addressed to Kinyua, the council maintains that KU is the rightful owner of the land, and denied being involved in the acquisition of the property as mentioned in the letter to the Vice-Chancellor.

Plans are underway to develop the land, according to Prof Adholla, who added that the aforesaid Cabinet decision did not provide the university time to explain how they were going to use the unoccupied section

“If the due process of the law was followed, the University would have been able to demonstrate that it requires every inch of its current land. The varsity has a detailed plan which shows how it intends to utilize its land to provide the much-needed education services to the Kenyan citizenry,” said Prof Adholla.

“Therefore, under article 40 of the Constitution, the university’s ownership rights are protected. These are fundamental rights that cannot be limited except within the strict confines of the law. Such rights are indefeasible and are further protected under the land Act.”

The varsity also maintains that the VC lacks powers to cede or surrender assets, a privilege left to the University Council.

On Tuesday, the institution’s VC Prof Paul Wainaina hinted to students he had been relieved of his duties, and the university council was in the process of being dissolved.

Wainaina said that the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua had written to the institution demanding its VC and council surrender part of the land owned by the institution.

“The letter by the Head of Public Service Kinyua had directed us to give the land to the hospital after a decision was made by cabinet. We have told the Education CS that the university council doesn’t have the capacity to give land, but to protect it,” Wainaina said.

 “We told them that the land we have is planned [for] and we even attached the strategic plans we had. There was no response,” he added.

Over 200 acres of land are in contention between Kenyatta University and Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital.

The tussle was triggered by a decision by KUTRRH to reportedly hive off 200 acres of the disputed land to construct World Health Organisation (WHO) offices. WHO is currently housed within the precincts of the referral hospital.