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Kirima or Domenico: Who owns 499 acres claimed by squatters?

 Chokaa, Mihang'o and Njiru where the court ruled that are having illegal inhabitants and were given upto December 31st to vacate or face demolition. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The Italian national at the heart of a fresh dispute between the Kirima family and different groups of squatters and third-party buyers had at least 499 acres of land.

This is according to succession documents in court.

According to a grant issued by the Family Court in Nairobi in 2011, Domenico De Masi is said to have owned LR. No 5908/8, which is part of the 1,000-acre property the Environment and Lands Court recently ordered persons who have erected properties to leave by December 31, 2023.

The grant indicated that Domenico's son, Bernard Vinceza De Masi was apportioned 21.6 acres from another property with title number 42/11.

At the same time, one Moses Maina Njenga was allocated 6.05 acres in the same title, 42/11.

Maina was also allotted 130 acres in the property now claimed not to be a part of former politician Gerishon Kirima.

The other part of the land, 369 acres were to be distributed equally to Antonio Kenyatta De Masi, Jospena De Masi, Elizabeta De Masi, Eleana De Masi, Bernardo De Masi and Nicholas De Masi.

Both Kirima and Domenico are dead. On the one hand, Domenico's succession case has not been concluded yet.

At the same time, Kirima's succession case is also in the corridors of justice.

As the dead tell no tale, it will now be left for the court to decide who between the two owned L.R No 5908/8.

This comes as fresh details from the affected groups roped in the Nairobi County government in the land saga.

A second group of persons who were ordered out, Muoroto Naridai moved back to court on Monday this week.

Receipts now filed in court indicate that the county government was receiving rates for the same property from the groups that were declared as invaders by Justice Samson Okong'o.

Receipts that are now part of new filings by lawyer Danstan Omari on behalf of Naridai Muoroto Scheme indicate that the defunct Nairobi City Council received between Sh28,000 and Sh33,000 from each person who purchased or was allocated a plot at the disputed property.

Land rates

Naridai's chair George Ouma said the group has 500 members, meaning that the county generated at least Sh16.5 million in land rates on a property whose ownership is being contested.

The city council, from the documents, also issued allotment letters.

Ouma claimed that the Njiru chief approached his group and informed them that Domenico was willing to process the titles for them.

He asserts that the court was wrong to find that they had encroached on the land.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the applicant does not concede to being an encroacher having bought the land, issued with certificates and issued allotment letters by the County Council," lawyer Omari said.

In the initial case that was dismissed by Justice Okong'o, the Naridai scheme in its case filed on April 23, 2014, told the court that its members own part of land located at Njiru.

The group claimed that the property measuring 500 acres was owned by the Government of Kenya through the County Government of Nairobi.

They alleged that between 1990 and 1994 they were moved by the government to the property and acquired rights to occupy the same as squatters. The initial number was 215 but grew to 2,000.

With Ouma saying he is a chair of 500 members, there is another puzzle of the remaining 1,500 members.

Further, Naridai claimed that the national and county governments had recognised their interests in the suit property and had issued them with letters of allotment in 2009 and were in the process of issuing them title deeds.

They alleged that the Kirima family came in sometime in March 2014 and claimed ownership.

On the other hand, Kirima's family argued that the former politician owned 14 parcels of land registered under 5908/649, 5908/675, 5908/677, 5908/672, 5908/666, 5908/664, 5908/648, 5908/647, 5908/662, 5908/646, 5908/663, 5908/673, 5908/665 and 5908/676, all which he had purchased.

The court heard that Kirima was paying rates to the county.

Kirima's family members stated that it was impossible for both the national and county governments to issue allotment letters to private property.

They argued that the letters were illegally acquired.

Testifying before Justice Okong'o, former City Clerk Geoffrey Charo was the icebreaker.

He nevertheless distanced himself from the allotment letters.

His evidence before Justice Okong'o was that whenever a request for land allocation was floated, it had to come from the planning department.

The request would be presented to the council's committee which then would table the same before the full council for approval.

If that stage passed, then, it would be presented to the Minister for Local Government who would then gazette it asking for anyone who had a complaint to come forward.

However, Charo said he could not remember if such a process was followed adding that the letters of allotment in question did not refer to Parcel No. 5908/8.

He also testified that he did not know where the plots were situated.

Charo stated that if the land was to be allocated as alleged, the then councillors would have been the first beneficiaries.

He asserted that letters of allotment did not originate from his office and that they did not look authentic.

Charo also denied being the author of the letters. The court also heard that during Charo's tenure as the Town Clerk, he did not hear of an entity known as Naridai Muoroto.

Engaging squatters

Meanwhile, De Masi filed a separate application claiming that the land belonged to his late father.

According to him, his father and himself never sold the land to Kirima or his family.

In the case filed by Joseph Gwandaru, De Masi claimed that instead, his family had been engaging squatters to have them buy out the space they were occupying.

He claimed that the orders issued by Justice Okong'o did not factor in that Dominico's family had an interest in the case.

According to him, the new information should prompt the court to intervene and suspend the orders.

De Masi claims that he only learned about the property from the media.

"My father's estate has not been a party to the current proceedings and neither have we been made aware of such a dispute over our property save for the highly publicised judgment as issued by the honourable court," he argued.

He claimed that at least 25,000 people would be affected by the orders issued in favour of the Kirima family.

According to him, no one challenged the succession process, hence, the land belonged to the Dominico family.

"Dominico De Masi (deceased) is the legal and rightful owner of the property known as LR No 5908/8 and the property has since devolved to his estate pursuant to a certificate of confirmation of grant issued in succession cause No 625/2009 on January 31, 2011," argued De Masi.

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