Kiambu County Government has moved to Environment and Lands Court (ELC) seeking to stay a decision made in favour of Farmer’s Choice Limited in a Sh5.4 billion land dispute suit.
Through lawyer Peter Njagi, the County Government wants to stay order made on May 7, 2020, that quashed the decision of National Land Commission (NLC) which revoked Farmer’s Choice title to the land measuring 248.5 acres situated in Uplands, Lari Constituency.
The Judgment also restrained the County and NLC from interfering with the disputed property.
Aggrieved by the said decision, the County government intends to appeal the whole judgment as awarded by the court.
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Lawyer Njagi said the County Government has an arguable appeal with high chances of success and if the stay is not granted Farmers Choice will proceed and execute the decision.
"Pending the hearing and determination of this application a temporary order of injunction be issued against the execution of the decision of the court delivered on May 7, 2020," said Njagi in the application.
After receiving the Application for Stay of Execution from the County Government, Thika ELC Judge Lucy Gacheru has directed the County Government to serve Farmer’s Choice with the application for the matter to be heard on October 10, 2020.
Kiambu County Secretary Martin Mbugua had in his affidavit said it was improper for Judge Gacheru not to effectively deal with the question if a decision was made or a recommendation to the registrar by the Commission since it was a live issue all through the Judicial Review process.
In the case, Kiambu County had lodged a complaint dated December 29, 2017, and March 6, 2018, with NLC under the Historical Land injustices claims and the NLC took up the matter for investigations.
On September 26, 2018, Farmer’s Choice was invited to a hearing before NLC committee but failed to turn up as per the invitation.
NLC held the meetings and later recommended that the disputed land was public land which had been wrongly allocated to private owners and was not available now or in the future for alienation.
Farmer’s Choice later filed its substantive Application on April 12, 2019, and the same was set down for hearing.
The said hearing proceeded which culminated in the decision delivered via email on May 7, 2020, that granted Farmer’s Choice their prayers.
In the Judgment, Farmer’s Choice was granted the disputed land size 248.5 acres.
However, on May 7, 2020, Judge Gacheru quashed the decision of NLC dated February 7, 2019, published in the Kenya Gazette purporting to revoke Farmer’s Choice's title to the parcel of land known as L.R 7593 measuring 248.5 acres in Kiambu County.
At the same time, she restrained the County government from interfering with Farmer’s Choice property.
"It is the court’s considered view that the prayers sought by the Ex parte Applicant for a declaration that it is the sole registered owner of the suit property is without merit," she ruled.
Aggrieved by the said decision, the County Government of Kiambu wants to Stay the orders and appeal that decision.
The County argues that the property belongs to the public by virtue of being public land under Article 162 of the Constitution and therefore the County is the sole custodian of public land holding in trust for the residents of Kiambu County.