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Anti-fraud officers in a spot over land cases

By Paul Ogemba | August 25th 2020

Pauline Maiyo at her Ol Jorai farm in Gilgil that was raided by criminals. She accused the Ministry of Lands of frustrating her efforts to repossess her land. [File, Standard]

Police investigators at the Lands Fraud Unit are in a spot for attempting to bungle high-profile land cases involving millions of shillings.

In separate protest letters to Inspector General Hilary Mutyambai, victims of illegal land acquisition have complained about the investigators stationed at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) offices over alleged collusion with land grabbers to defeat justice. 

Businessman Francis Njeru raised the alarm over attempts by the investigators to bungle and withdraw a criminal case against two suspects charged with attempting to defraud him of his land valued at Sh150 million.

Njeru, in his protest to the IG, claims the officers are aiding cartels to defraud unsuspecting landowners through bribery and interference of land records at the Ministry of Lands.

“I am a heartbroken Kenyan. The investigators at the lands fraud unit tried to scuttle my case even after the suspected fraudsters were charged in court with attempting to grab my land. I am asking the IG to take action against the officers and help us get justice,” he said.

Dispute over Njeru’s four-acre parcel at Nairobi Inland Depot started in 2016 when he sued China Road and Bridges Corporation for trespassing and taking over the land without his permission and knowledge.

It was discovered during the hearing that the Chinese company leased the land from ARJ Capital Ltd who claimed that they were the registered owners of the land, but the court found that the company’s title was forged and ordered the DCI to investigate how they acquired it.

The DCI investigations revealed that the company’s directors, Ahmed Rashid Jibril and Farrah Ali Mohamed, were the culprits behind leasing the land to the Chinese company.

The two were subsequently charged with six counts of conspiracy to defraud, making a false title document, obtaining the land’s registration by false pretence and refusing to surrender the land to its owner.

According to the charge sheet, Jibril and Mohammed allegedly attempted to defraud Njeru of his land by making a fake title in the name of ARJ Capital Ltd, purporting it to be a genuine and valid land title issued by a land registrar.

Nairobi magistrate Roseline Aganyo rejected an attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to terminate the case against the two, ruling that the case was of great public interest since it involved land fraud. It is not only Njeru who has raised complaints against the senior investigators at the Lands Fraud Unit.

Mombasa-based Sheikh Zayed Children Welfare Centre, in its letter to the IG, claims the investigators have refused to take action against a land grabber who illegally took possession of their land in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area.

“We have information that the investigator is trying to interfere with the findings to favour the fraudster who happens to be his friend. This is not how investigations are done when an officer tries to help a criminal,” said the organisation’s chief executive officer, Hassan Zayed.

Another company, Manair Limited, has also complained about the Lands Fraud Unit’s attempts to protect those who allegedly grabbed and occupied its land in Nairobi’s Industrial Area.

According to the company, the investigators tried to coerce the original landowner to disown his statement that he sold the land to Manair Limited in order to assist the grabber lay claim to the land using a fake title deed.

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