Military wins Sh1.5b Embakasi land case

KDF recruits during a past passing out parade in Eldoret. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The Court of Appeal has reversed a decision requiring the military to pay a private firm Sh1.5 billion over 90 acres in Embakasi.

Justices Daniel Musinga, Agnes Murgor and Jamilla Mohamed, in their verdict, found that Torino Enterprises Limited was not the legitimate owner of the land where the Kenya Army Mine Action Training Centre stands.

The court said the property belonged to the defunct Nairobi City Council and therefore was illegally allocated to Renton Company Ltd.

Renton was said to have sold the land to Torino for Sh12 million for a term of 99 years commencing January 1 2001.

Renton had allegedly been granted land through an allotment letter dated December 19, 1999, by the Commissioner of Lands.

Nevertheless, the court found that the Commissioner of Lands had no powers to allot the land to Renton, as he knew DoD had occupied the same property.

“The Commissioner of Lands did not have authority in law to allot the land and therefore no valid interest on the same could be conferred upon Renton and subsequently to the respondent herein. The process leading to the acquisition of title by the respondent was flawed and tainted with illegality,” the judges ruled.

High Court judge Jean Gacheche had on July 4, 2011, ordered that the government either surrenders the land to Torino Enterprises Ltd or pay for it.

“The respondent shall, therefore, within the next 30 days, restore the possession of the suit land back to the petitioner in the same condition as it was when it was unlawfully acquired or alternatively pay the petitioner the sum of Sh1,530,000,000, being the current market value of the said land, as per the valuation report produced in court, which was not disputed by the respondent,” ruled Justice Gacheche.

In its case, the firm claimed it acquired the land in 2000 from Renton at Sh12 million, with an intention of developing residential houses. The total size was 207 acres.

The Court of Appeal however observed that Renton had requested the Commissioner of Lands to transfer the land to “its sister company”.

“It follows, therefore, that the Certificate of Title issued to the respondent was an illegal document, owing to the manner in which the land was acquired by Renton,” the court said.

Sometime in 2005, DoD hived off 90 acres to make a camp to train their teams of experts in eradicating land mines.