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Anti-graft agency recovers Sh345m asset from ex-MP

Rift Valley
 Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission South Rift Regional Manager Godfrey Oyugi addressing the press on October 1, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has recovered a five-acre government land worth Sh345 million that had been grabbed by a former MP.

The land located in the Central Business District (CBD) in Nakuru also had houses.

According to the anti-graft agency, the property belonged to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development but was grabbed by individuals through companies and proxies.

EACC’s South Rift Regional Manager Godfrey Oyugi said the land had been reserved and also used for government housing.

“The government residential quarters are popularly known as St Xavier Estate, located off Oginga Odinga Avenue, along Gusii Road,” he said.

Oyugi said the commission won a case it filed against former Commissioner of Lands Wilson Gachanja and two private entities; Pembeni Limited and Liberty Assurance Limited, linked to a former Aldai MP.

“The commission also sued Saleh Chepkole and Titus Kipkemboi who were also involved in the land transfer fraud with Gachanja,” said Oyugi.

According to Oyugi, Gachanja fraudulently allocated the land to Chepkole and Kipkemboi who subsequently transferred it to Pembeni and Liberty Assurance.

Oyugi added that in its ruling, the Lands Court nullified all the transactions that led to the illegal transfer of the land.

“The court ordered the land to be registered in the name of the Principal Secretary (PS) Treasury, in trust, on behalf of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development,” said Oyugi.

According to Oyugi, civil servants occupy the property and have been paying rent to the government.

He insisted that the issue was that the land was registered under the names of the company instead of the government.

“Since the civil servants have not bought the land but only occupy the houses as tenants, they will not be evicted. The only process will be rectification of the titles for the land,” said Oyugi.

He warned all government officials involved in land frauds that the commission was watching and that it would take action against any of them without fear or favour.

Oyugi advised those occupying government land illegally and holding titles to surrender them to the government instead of wasting time on lengthy and costly court processes which they will eventually lose.

“Do not fight a losing battle in court. Surrender the land. EACC has the mandate to negotiate with those who surrender the land under the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) framework,” he said.

The commission, expounded Oyugi, will pursue the rectification of the Nakuru Land Register, to have a new title issued in the name of the government as ordered by the Court.

He further stated that once the rectification process is concluded, EACC will hand over the title to the government.

Oyugi said, in Nakuru alone, the commission is pursuing other grabbed public property in court.

He said the targeted land constitutes agricultural land, road reserves, land reserved for expansion of state agencies and Government houses for civil servants.

Justice Mwangi Njoroge ruled in favour of EACC on September 22 this year.

In the judgement, Mr Njoroge upheld EACC’s submissions that at the time of the allocation, the land was government property and was not available for allocation.

Njoroge ruled that all transactions concerning the land were fraudulent.

He cancelled the registration entries on the lease of the parcel registered in favour of Chepkole and Kipkemboi.

“A permanent injunction is issued restraining the Liberty Assurance Company or any other person from charging, transferring, leasing, developing or occupying the land,” ruled Njoroge.

EACC filed the case on June 29, 2018, and submitted that despite sending several demands, the individuals and the companies refused to voluntarily surrender the property.

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