Deceased businessman Jacob Juma has been ordered to compensate two traders Sh50 million for grabbing their Sh500 million worth 18 acres in Nairobi.
Environment and Land Court judge Loice Komingoi, in her ruling, stated that Juma grabbed and illegally occupied the prime piece of land in Loresho, which denied the real owners, Ashok Shah and Hitenkumar Raja, the right to enjoy their property.
“Juma unlawfully interfered and grabbed the property from 2008, when the prime land in Loresho, Nairobi, was valued at Sh252 million. I am satisfied that the complainants have suffered damages for trespass into their property and are entitled to compensation of Sh50 million,” ruled Justice Komingoi.
The judge did not however specify whether the compensation would be paid by Juma’s widow Miriam Wairimu, who testified on his behalf after his alleged assassination on May 6, 2016.
The judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence to prove that Juma acted in collusion with some officials at the Lands registry to illegally obtain the title and ordered his dependants and agents to immediately vacate the property and hand it back to Mr Shah and Mr Raja.
Shah and Raja sued Juma in 2009 claiming that he had grabbed their land, fenced it with a perimeter wall and built security houses to deny them access.
The two businessmen said they bought the land from Liney Company Limited, which were the original owners of the piece of land, having acquired it from the government in 1993.
They stated that before they could take possession, Juma fraudulently procured a fake title to claim ownership and went ahead to block them from accessing the property by constructing the perimeter wall in 2008.
Juma had, in response filed in July 2009, stated that the land was allocated to him in 1992 by the Commissioner of Lands, and issued with a deed plan which he used to acquire the title deed in 1994.
After his death, his widow took over the case and testified in court in December 2019, where she stated that Juma legally acquired the land in 1992 by following the right procedures and was issued with a valid title deed.
The Ministry of Lands, through state counsel Allan Kamau, however, told the court the original land documents were stolen and suspected that Juma might have used the lost documents to fake ownership.
Kamau confirmed to court that the original records from the Commissioner of Lands and the Registrar of Titles showed that the land was given to Liney Company Limited, which later sold it to Shah and Raja.
Justice Komingoi ruled that the evidence proved that the land was allocated to Liney Company Limited, and that the title held by Juma was fraudulently acquired.
“The discrepancies in Juma’s claim for ownership show a well-organised syndicate to misrepresent facts and defraud the genuine owners of their property. “The letter of allotment proves the fraud the deceased Juma attempted to commit against the real owners,” ruled Komingoi.
According to the judge, a forensic document examiner had proved that the signature on Juma’s title was a forgery and that there could have not been two legitimate allocation of the land to two different entities at the same period in 1993.
Justice Komingoi added that Juma, and by extension his widow, could not be allowed to benefit from a fraudulently acquired land title.
She declared that the title registered in Juma’s name was fake and fraudulent, and that his widow had no legal right to claim inheritance.