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Court stops Rwanda from evicting Mombasa businessman from plot

By Joackim Bwana | March 29th 2018

The Rwanda Government has been restrained from evicting a local businessman from a disputed piece of land in Miritini pending the determination of a suit.

Rwanda had filed a case to reclaim a plot it says it was allocated by the Kenyan Government in the 1980s in exchange for a plot in Kigali.

Kigali argues that it acquired legal papers for the property and has been paying land rates and that the businessman occupied the property illegally before it was developed. Rwanda intended to build an office to handle goods imported through the Mombasa port.

The businessman has claimed ownership on the principle of adverse possession, but Rwanda has dismissed the contention on the grounds that its ownership rights were never extinguished.

Justice PJ Otieno stopped the regional police commander, the officer commanding police station Changamwe, the officer commanding administration police Changamwe, and the county commissioner from evicting and demolishing developments on the land.

“A mandatory injunction is hereby issued prohibiting and restraining the respondents and their seniors and juniors from in any manner interfering with, evicting, demolishing, and/or assisting any party in the eviction and demolishing the petitioner’s development situated in Miritini, Changamwe,” said Justice Otieno.

The land measuring 12.88 hectares was given to Rwandan by Kenya 31 years ago following a mutual exchange for a similar piece of land in Rwanda.

Salad Awale, who owns Awale Transporters, filed a petition on June 30, 2016 seeking a judicial review on a judgement issued by Justice Anyara Emukule on May 31, 2016 revoking his title deed to the said land on the grounds it was forged.

Mr Awale said he was the proprietor of the property that is on a lease hold of 99 years since May 1, 1986.

Awale futher claimed he had been paying annual rent of Sh208,000 although no evidence was provided.

However, the Rwandan ambassador to Kenya, Yamina Karitanyi, told Justice Emokule, who has now retired, that Awale was a trespasser who had forged the title deed and should be removed from the property and his petition and proceedings dismissed with costs.

Ms Karitanyi said Rwandan has over time paid over Sh6,104,490.80 by way of rates to the Municipal Council of Mombasa.

The envoy said the Rwandan embassy’s grant was peppercorn and no rent was payable thereon.

Lawful acquisition

Yesterday, Justice Otieno said: “The decision to capriciously evict the petitioner and demolish development before a lawful acquisition and compensation is unconstitutional."

The judge said the Rwandan Government had been given an alternative parcel of land and that Awale, having been in occupation and use of the said suit land for a long period of time, had carried out development.

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