Trader sues bishops in tenancy row

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and a tenant of their Waumini Building in Westlands are bracing for a bruising court battle over terminated tenancy.

The owner of Alyusra Restaurant, who has claimed his six-year lease was terminated on grounds of religion, has challenged the decision in court.

In a plaint filed before High Court Judge Justice Isaac Lenaola, lawyer Rahma Jillo for Alyusra Restaurant says the six-year lease was terminated on the basis that it was being run by Somali Muslims.

The restaurant's director, Baakai Maalim, says he had already paid more than Sh2 million as deposit and the lease had already been signed with Knight Frank, the property agent for Waumini Building.

"This is a brazen violation of the Constitution by the Catholic bishops who should be at the forefront of preaching religious tolerance, which calls for the intervention of this honourable court," the petition by Maalim reads.

The bishops' body, through Knight Frank, leased out the premises last December and the restaurant owner was to start paying rent in February, this year, after producing a bank comfort letter.

"The first respondent (Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops), despite and lease of agreement being signed and rent paid, violently ejected the petitioner from its restaurant business and padlocked the premises," says the lawyer.

The court heard that the bishops handed over the premises in January and Maalim started refurbishing it in readiness for a grand opening of the restaurant in April.

Justice Lenaola heard the proprietor had incurred Sh17 million on refurbishment.

He was also told that an estimated Sh68 million expected for the six-year tenancy would be lost if the restaurant is locked from the premises.