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NLC opposes Weston’s plea to stop land case

NAIROBI
By Kamau Muthoni | July 13th 2021

Weston Hotel entrance. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The National Lands Commission yesterday made a turnaround to oppose an application to adjourn the Weston land case.

Although the commission supports the case by the hotel associated with Deputy President William Ruto to the effect that the court has no powers to hear the case filed by Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, it argued that the court should proceed to hear the final submissions.

Lawyer Irungu Kang’ata, a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, is representing NLC in the case. According to the commission, Weston has a chance to appeal the entire case once the Environment and Lands Court determines it.

“We are of the view that the petitioner has an opportunity to ventilate his issues once the case is determined and your honour, should the intended be determined, we will be taken back there having taken time here,” the commission argued.

In reply, Weston’s lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi said NLC should have been the first to challenge a ruling by Justice Bernard Eboso over whether or not he has powers to hear cases determined by the commission.

“It shows how clueless it is. If NLC was serious about its functions, it would have appealed the decision you made. The NLC is oblivious to that and it is a tragedy to this country,” Ahmednasir replied.

Lawyer Ahmed Ahmednasir Abdullahi representing Olive Telecommunications at the Milimani Law Courts, June 30, 2014. [Fidelis Kabunyi, Standard]

The lands commission supported KCAA’s argument that the case should proceed despite an appeal by the hotel last Friday.

Yesterday, Ahmednasir told the court that Weston would be at a loss if the hearing continues before that of the appeal on whether the lands court has powers to entertain cases settled by NLC.

“If you do not stay these proceedings, you will literally take away the right to an appeal,” he continued. “The record of Appeal was filed on July 9. It has not been given directions.”

Weston has asserted that it owns the contested land. According to Ahmednasir, his client bought the land from Priority Limited. He said that there was no link between KCAA and the land it now claims.

However, KCAA says that Weston is applying delaying tactics in order to frustrate its efforts to reclaim the land located opposite Wilson Airport.

According to KCAA lawyer Stephen Ligunya, Weston was erecting last-minute hurdles. 

“We have opposed that application. We believe that the appeal is light-footed and will not succeed,” he said.

Weston Hotel entrance along Lang'ata Road, Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Kenya Commercial Bank, which is also a party in the case, did not take sides. The lender joined the case as Weston had secured a Sh1 billion loan with the contested land.

Weston Ltd had argued that NLC’s order issued on January 21, last year, that it should pay for the land was unfair because it legally acquired the contested plot and should not be compelled to pay for it again.

The hotel sought to conclude negotiations that would determine how much it would pay the civil aviation authority for the 0.773-hectare land. A fresh valuation of the land was to be done to estimate how much the hotel was to pay before NLC regularises the title to Weston.

Weston had asked the court to strike out the case “because KCAA has not exhausted the remedies offered by the commission.”

However, KCAA claimed Weston colluded with two firms, Monene Investment and Priority, to grab its land which is situated in Nairobi’s Lang’ata area.

The judge will rule on whether the case will proceed on September 16. 

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