Ruling on KICC will boost financial performance, CEO says

A view of the Kenyatta International Convention Center. [File, Standard]

The Chief Executive Officer Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) James Mwaura now says the landmark ruling by the High Court is going to enhance the financial performance of the institution.

Mwaura in a statement on Monday said the ruling does not only affirm that the government is the rightful owner of the land on which KICC stands but also resolves a protracted legal dispute between the state and the Kenya African National Union (KANU).

The Environment and Land Court presided over by Justice Jacqueline Mogeni, ruled that the land was unlawfully acquired by KANU in May 1969 and revoked the title while declaring that the Ministry of Tourism is the lawful owner of the land.

"The allocation of the property to KANU without following legal procedure is unlawful and illegal," stated Justice Mogeni.

The Judge said KANU failed to present evidence of the legal procedure by which the public land was alienated and allocated to the party. The commissioner of lands, she emphasized, had no authority to allocate the property to KANU.

The party however vowed to appeal the decision on grounds that it procedurally acquired the land the iconic KICC conference facility sits on under the previous constitutional dispensation making it the ‘legitimate and bona fide’ owner of the property.

“While we respect and appreciate the independence of the Judiciary as an arbiter in this matter, we wish to clearly state that we are in total disagreement with the judgment granting the ownership of the land to the Ministry of Tourism,” said KANU Director of Communications Manasse Nyainda.

According to Nyainda the political outfit will head to the appellate court in an attempt to regain ownership.

“The party has already instructed its legal team to file a notice of appeal with immediate effect as the party combs through the substance of the judgment to issue a comprehensive statement in due course,” reads part of the statement.

The Chief Executive Officer Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) James Mbugua Mwaura. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

But the CEO said the ruling was a great relief of the longstanding issue which has been his priority since his appointment in March 2024.

"This decision paves the way for us to focus on accelerating the strategic efforts to enhance the profitability of this iconic building, and grow Kenya’s Conference Tourism," he said.

Mwaura expressed gratitude to the Head of Public Service Felix Kosgey and the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism Alfred Mutua for their support in securing the deed. 

KANU had filed the case before the Environment and Land Court in 2020, seeking to reclaim the land, arguing that it had been allocated to the party in May 1969 by the then commissioner of lands.

The party maintained that it held an indefeasible title to the land under Section 26 of the Land Registration Act, No. 3 of 2012, and contended that the government's takeover in February 2003 was unlawful and uncompensated.

But Justice Mogeni's ruling clarified that the government repossessed the plot in 1971 and subsequently allocated funds to complete the building, which was officially opened by Kenya's first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, in September 1973.

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