Widow wrests control of Narok land after fight of two decades

The land worth about Sh60 million was grabbed by a Narok businessman. [iStockphoto]

A 74-year-old widow has successfully won back prime land in Narok town estimated to be worth Sh60 million from a businessman of Indian origin.

Mary Lankas won the case against Hanib Ayub Suleiman, the proprietor of Roadster Ltd, a freight Company based in Narok at the Narok Environmental and Land court on Friday.

Lankas started seeking justice in 2005 through the Narok District Land Tribunal, but those who grabbed the property have forced her in and out of court through various applications.

Justice Charles Mbogo dismissed a memorandum of appeal by Suleiman in December 2019 against an earlier court decision to give Lankas back the four-acre land.  

It was the second time the court upheld the decision. In October 2018, Justice Muhammed Kullow, the then Judge in Narok adopted the land tribunal decision that the four acres be returned to Ms Lankas.

“The issues raised in the instant application are issues that have already been dealt with in the judgment delivered by Kullow on October 2018. Any attempt to comment or otherwise would be tantamount to this court sitting on its appeal,” ruled Justice Mbogo.

Suleiman had appealed the court’s decision that ordered the widow be either compensated in line with the then rates, or be given back her land. However, Ms Lankas demanded her land back.

The grabbing happened immediately after the death of her husband Jones Lankas, who had sold 10 acres to Suleiman.

According to court documents, it was during the demarcation process that there was an illegal extension of the 10 acres sold to Suleiman by an extra four acres in suspected collusion with land surveyors and adjudication officials. 

The documents also indicate that even after a district Land Tribunal Court in Narok ruled out that the plot in Total estate along the Narok-Bomet Highway belonged to Lankas, Suleiman continued to delay justice for the mother of eight for more than 18 years. 

In her court papers, Ms Lankas lamented that the case started in 2005 and has been dragging through the years for no apparent reason.

“These people have been trying to use the courts to deny me justice and take away my land despite the case being a straightforward case riddled with fraud, that even Suleiman has never denied that he had illegally increased the land from 10 acres to 14 acres,” argued Lankas.

After the tribunal, Lankas moved to the Magistrate’s court, then to the High Court, and later to the Environment Court but all the courts upheld the tribunal ruling on the matter that she be given back the land that was hived off from reference number CIS-MARA /OLELESHWA/544 and CIS-MARA/OLELESHWA/545.

The bone of contention in court has been that the tribunal had given an alternative that Suleiman should pay Sh480,000 to Ms Langas with an acre going for sh120,000 around 2007.

In an appeal lodged by Lankas at the Environment and Lands Court, Justice Mohammed Kullow affirmed the award of the Tribunal of May 8, 2007, and another ruling by the Narok Magistrate court on September 5, 2012, in the widow’s favour.

“The decree was proper and free from any ambiguity and that the burden is on the appellant to choose how to execute the same and to insinuate that the court decided for the decree-holder how to execute the same is farfetched,” said Justice Kullow.