Relief for DP Gachagua in Sh1.5 land case with ministry official

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has obtained relief after a Nairobi court extended an order stopping a ministry of lands official from interfering with a disputed land valued at Sh1.5 billion.

Environment and Land Court Judge Ogutu Mboya Monday stopped the Director of Physical Planning at the Ministry of Lands John Michael Ohas and his company Columbus 2000 Limited from taking over the disputed five-acre land in Embakasi until October 13 when the matter will be heard.

“In view of the fact that the defendant has not sorted the issue of which lawyer will represent him, the court extends the orders that stops the defendants from interfering, selling or transferring the property until the next hearing date,” ruled Mboya.

Mr Gachagua is claiming ownership of the land located next to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and accused the Ministry of Lands official of attempting to grab it.

The DP through lawyer Philip Nyachoti averred that Mr Ohas took advantage of his position at the ministry to illegally transfer the land’s title to Columbus 2000 Limited which has denied him the right to enjoy the land despite being the registered owner.

“Mr Ohas took advantage of his position to transfer the title of the land to Columbus 2000 Limited where he is the director and deliberately tampered with the records whereby any official search indicates that Mr Gachagua is not the owner,” said Nyachoti.

According to the lawyer, the dispute relating to the land’s ownership was determined by the National Lands Commission in 2016 when they upheld that the DP and his company Wamunyoro Investments Limited legally acquired the land in 2012 from the original owners.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during a live interview with KTN News at his private residence in Karen, Nairobi. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Nyachoti argued that despite the findings by NLC, Mr Ohas and his company have refused to hand back the land to the DP after illegally and fraudulently obtaining a second title.

“The property is currently valued at Sh1.5 billion and was used by Mr Gachagua through his company Wamunyoro Investments Ltd as security to obtain a loan of Sh200 million from Equity Bank. Refusing to register him as the land’s owner is causing him loses,” said Nyachoti.

Mr Nyachoti accused the Ministry of Lands official of engaging in a conflict of interest by fraudulently transferring Gachagua’s land to himself and cleaning all the records to show the DP does not own the land.

Mr Gachagua, in his affidavit swore, that he acquired the land in 2012 after purchasing it from Karandi Farm Limited and Peter Mbugua at a cost of Sh24 million and had the title registered in his company’s name.

The DP swore that he then assumed possession and used the title as security to acquire the Sh200 million loan but was surprised in 2016 when Mr Ohas filed a complaint at NLC claiming that he owned the land.

“He {Ohas] claimed that he acquired the land in 1994 but after careful analysis, the commission dismissed his claims and found that my title was legally acquired. Even after the commission dismissed his claims to the land, Ohas has never taken any steps to appeal the decision,” said Gachagua.

Gachagua stated that after the NLC’s decision in 2016, he took possession of the land until December 2019 when the Ministry of Lands official allegedly interfered with the records and removed his name as the owner.

According to the DP, Mr Ohas had the title registered in the names of Columbus 2000 Ltd by taking advantage of his position to erase all other previous entries which showed the original owners of the land.

“He fraudulently generated a second title and entered an illegal registration for a company for which he is a director. This was in total disregard of the NLC finding that I am the legal owner of the property having lawfully purchased it from the previous owners,” swore Gachagua.