Court declines to stop Portland land house demolitions

A bulldozer demolishes a house on land that belongs to the East African Portland Cement Company in Athi River on Monday. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

The Environment Court has declined to block the ongoing demolition of houses at the East Africa Portland Cement Company’s land in Mavoko.

Justice Annet Nyukuri, in her ruling on Thursday, October 19, 2023, said a group claiming to be squatters, Aimi ma Lukenya, had not proved they had legitimately bought the land in 2019.

She observed that despite Aimi producing the title document, the group did not attach vital evidence to show how it acquired the document.

Aimi had filed a fresh application seeking to stop the demolitions.

But Justice Nyukuri observed that Aimi’s conduct after getting temporary orders in 2015 was against its plea for fresh orders.

She said there was evidence to show the group went ahead to sell the contested property to third-party buyers, even as late as this year.

At the same time, she said the group on the other hand never served the court papers as ordered, despite enjoying the court’s shield.

The judge allowed objections filed by East Africa Portland Cement, Kenya Railways Corporation, Grain Bulk Handlers, Superior Homes Limited, Chief Land Registrar, and the National Land Commission.

Not only did Justice Nyukuri decline to intervene, she ordered Aimi to shoulder the cost of the application.

“There is absolutely no merit in the application filed on October 11, 2023, and I dismiss the same with costs to the defendants,” ruled Justice Nyukuri.

In the case, Superior Homes lawyer Phillip Nyachoti argued that the application was incompetent and an abuse of the court process. According to Nyachoti, Aimi never revealed to the court that they had filed a similar case in Nairobi. At the same time, he said, the second case filed before the same court in Machakos was struck out by the court.

“The application is gravely misconceived, grossly misplaced,  mischievous, frivolous, scandalous, vexatious, and therefore an abuse of the process of this honourable court and should be dismissed forthwith. The application as drawn, filed, and served is hopelessly incompetent in so far as a title known as L.R 10424 Athi-River and the fourth respondent’s interest therein is concerned and or related,” argued Nyachoti.

Mavoko MP Partrick Makau addressing the press on the fraudulent sale of the East Africa Portland Cement land and demolition of houses after a grilling session at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters in Kiambu County on Wednesday, October 18, 2023. [David Gichuru, Standard]

While seeking the court’s intervention, Aimi argued the demolitions were against the United Nation’s convention on eviction.

They asserted that demolishing the properties built on the contested land was heartless and had rendered the occupants homeless without adequate notice.

According to them, their case on whether the title was valid, has never been determined. However, Portland, argued that Aimi and third-party buyers should leave as they hindered it from enjoying its right to property.

Two weeks ago, Justice Nyukuri struck out the case filed 10 years ago for failing to comply with the court orders.

The judge observed that the court had accommodated Aimi officials several times but they never served their court parties to all the parties in the case.

On May 17, 2023, a dispute was mentioned before the same judge. She directed the squatters to physically serve the court papers to all the parties who they had listed, failure to which, the court would strike out the case.

The judge set October 9 as the mention date to confirm whether Aimi officials had obeyed the orders. When they appeared on the 9th, Aimi informed the court that they were unable to serve the court papers.

[email protected]