Jackson Kibor [Photo: Peter Ochieng]

The Environment and Lands Court has ruled in favour of Eldoret businessman Jackson Kibor in a protracted dispute, pitting his sons and his former employees over a 1,250-acre farm in Soy, Uasin Gishu County. The court dismissed three applications filed by Kibor’s sons and the employees seeking to stop the execution of a ruling delivered on May 6 pending appeal.

The sons - Elkanah Kipleting and Ezekiel Kipng’etich - and Kibor’s daughter-in-law Michelle Chebet wanted the court's intervention pending the hearing of their appeal. Justice Antony Ombwayo had in May ruled that Kibor was the legal owner of the disputed land, but his sons moved to challenge the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

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The employees, in their application, told the court that they are senior citizens who will suffer irreparable damages if they are evicted from the disputed land. They argued that Kibor is likely to dispose of the land and subject them to substantial loss unless their application was allowed.

They sought a temporary injunction restraining Kibor from any dealings on LR No. 8300 and 8301, pending the hearing and determination of the intended appeal. But Justice Stephen Kibunja dismissed the applications, saying there was no evidence showing the extent of damage that the applicants would suffer. “In all the three applications, there is no evidence tendered that goes to show the extent of the damage the respective defendants are likely to suffer if the applications are not granted,” he noted.

He added, “That in any case, the judgement delivered on May 6, 2020 clearly shows the prayer to have the sons of the plaintiff (Kibor), that is the 11th to 15th and 18th Defendants was declined, and there is no evidence tendered to suggest or show that the Plaintiff has set out to evict them, or is likely to evict them before the appeal is heard and determined."

Kibor had moved to court in 2016 to block the transfer of the parcels of land to his sons in an unresolved family dispute. He also claimed that his employees were illegally registered as proprietors of the parcels of land. After hearing the dispute, the court ruled that Mzee Kibor was the legal owner of the land and that his sons and employees did not have valid claim on the land. The judge ruled that unlike his sons, Kibor presented in court documents which validated his ownership.

“The upshot of the above is that the plaintiff has proved his case on balance of probability and I, therefore, declare that he is the rightful owner of the original parcel known as LR No 8300 and 8301 (LR 16815 and LR 16896/1),” the court had ruled. The court had further directed the affected employees to vacate the land within a period of 150 days failure to which they will be forcefully evicted.

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Elkana Kipleting, Evans Kipkosgei, Eric Kipchumba, Raymond Kibitok and Edwin Kipkoech, who are Kibor’s sons, are said to have fraudulently subdivided and were processing title deeds to the land. Other defendants included Kipruto arap Lelei, Samuel Kiprono, Tanguar Suge, Serei arap Lelnengit, Chelulei Keino, Wesley Sambai, Kiprotich arap Kibiwott and Gideon Chemiron who are Kibor’s former employees.