A company has lost its bid to block the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) from recovering over 216 acres of land it allegedly illegally acquired.
Nakuru Environment and Land Court Judge Anthony Ombwayo yesterday dismissed an application by Pineapple Edge Limited (PEL) seeking to stop EACC from prosecuting the case.
PEL filed an objection after EACC sued it, claiming the process the company used to acquire the land in Naivasha, Nakuru County, was illegal.
EACC submitted that the land is public and was set aside for Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation’s (KALRO) research.
In its objection, however, the company said the suit was time-barred and should be struck out.
It said it acquired the property in 1997.
“KALRO never took any action against us for over 12 years and the court should allow the company to own the land under adverse possession,” the company submitted.
However, Justice Ombwayo ruled that the suit is not time-barred since it revolves around alleged fraud on public land and therefore time starts running when fraud is discovered.
“The defendant (PEL) has not proven that EACC discovered fraud more than 12 years before filing the case in court,” ruled the judge.
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The court noted that Section 42 of Limitation of Actions excludes proceedings by the government to recover public land from the act that allows adverse possession.
He dismissed the objection and ordered the case to proceed to a full hearing.
EACC has sued PEL, Trojan Nominees Limited (TNL) and former Commissioner of Lands Wilson Gachanja over the alleged illegal acquisition of land measuring 435 acres.
The commission says it started its probe after the Director of Public Prosecutions complained on August 5, 2015.
Court records have a January 17, 1996 report detailing how the land was sub-divided into six parcels.
EACC says it established that of the six, a parcel measuring 216.1 acres was illegally allocated to PEL on April 16, 1995, and registered on April 28, 1997.
The commission submits that PEL was allegedly struck off the Register of Companies and dissolved vide Kenya Gazette notice of December 24, 1999.
EACC states that two parcels measuring 101.5 acres and 29.2 acres were illegally allocated to TNL and were registered on December 16, 1997.
EACC accuses Gachanja of overseeing the illegal transfer of parcels to PEL and TNL.
However, Gachanja denies the allegations, saying the duty is under the Director of Surveys.