Ministry comes to defence of DP Gachagua in Sh1.5b land dispute

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Ministry of Lands Wednesday confirmed that Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua legally acquired a disputed five-acre parcel of land in Nairobi County.

Three senior officials from the ministry swore affidavits to prove that Gachagua and his company, Wamunyoro Investments Limited, are the registered owners of the disputed parcel valued at Sh1.5 billion and that the man claiming to be the owner forged the records.

The officials were supported by the Attorney General who filed the statement on behalf of Chief Lands Registrar stating that former Director of Physical Planning at the Ministry of Lands John Michael Ohas, through his company Columbus 2000 Ltd, interfered with the land records to defraud Gachagua.

“Ohas’ title was irregularly registered when the property had already been allotted to another person who sold it to Gachagua. The title should be classified as irregular, null and void in so far as it overlaps onto private property owned by the DP,” said State counsel Allan Kamau.

The Ministry of Lands officials who swore affidavits to support the DP’s claim are Director of Land Administration Gordon Ochieng, Senior Assistant Lands Registrar David Nyambaso and surveyor Wilfred Muchae.

The officials said the records at the ministry show that Ohas’ company, Columbus 2000 was allocated the land in 1994 with a condition that he accepts the government offer and pays the requisite land rates and fees within 30 days.

They said their former colleague did not accept the offer and failed to pay the requisite fee which forced the government to revoke the allotment.

“Records from the ministry show that after he rejected the offer, the land was allocated to Karandi Farm Limited, Peter Mbugua and Pauline Muringe who complied with all requirements and were issued with a valid title,” said Kamau.

The officials confirmed that after Gachagua and his company Wamunyoro Investments acquired the land from Karandi Farm, he followed due process and the title was transferred to him in 2012.

They stated that despite the title having been legally registered and transferred to the DP, the Commissioner of Lands prepared another title for Ohas and his company in 2019 which made the disputed land to bear two different titles.

“Registration of Ohas’ title created an unprecedented scenario where two entities laid claim over the same suit property. The registration to Ohas should have not taken place since the property was owned by Karandi Farm which transferred it to Mr Gachagua’s company,” swore the officials.

At the same time, Gachagua through lawyer Philip Nyachoti has opposed an application by Ohas seeking to reinstate the original suit in which he sued the DP and his company for taking over the disputed land.

Nyachoti instead asked the court to allow him proceed with the main suit where the DP has sued the former lands official for allegedly using his position at the ministry to transfer the land to himself.

Nyachoti said that Ohas took advantage of his position at Ministry of Lands to illegally transfer the title to Columbus 2000 which has denied the DP the rights to enjoy the land despite being the registered owner.

Dispute relating to the land in Embakasi within Nairobi County Airport dates back to 2012 when Gachagua says he acquired it from Karandi Farm Limited at Sh24 million.