Court quashes DCI bid to revoke deed of Sh2.4b land in Lavington

The DCI in July 2020 wrote to the Ministry of Lands to revoke and expunge fraudulent transactions relating to the title held by the company. [iStockphoto]

A Nairobi court has quashed a recommendation by the Director of Criminal of Investigations to revoke a title deed held by a company for a seven-acre land in Lavington valued at Sh2.4 billion.

Justice Oscar Angote of the Environment and Lands Court ruled that the DCI recommendation to Ministry of Lands Principal Secretary to revoke the title held by Nairobi House Limited was irrational and meant to deny the company its claim to the land.

"The investigations that culminated in the recommendations to revoke the company's title were vitiated by irrationality and procedural impropriety. The court issues an order stopping the PS of Lands or any other person from enforcing the recommendations," ruled Angote.

Justice Angote's decision added a new twist to the dispute between Nairobi House Limited and Lennah Koinange, daughter of former Cabinet Minister Mbiyu Koinange, over the prime land in Nairobi.

The DCI in July 2020 wrote to the Ministry of Lands to revoke and expunge fraudulent transactions relating to the title held by the company.

But the company, through lawyer Philip Nyachoti, argued that the plan to revoke its title was in bad faith and meant to deny it the property since the dispute over ownership is still pending in court.

According to Nyachoti, the DCI had previously conducted investigations in 2005 which absolved the company and its directors from fraud.

Nyachoti argued that a fresh probe conducted in 2020 were instigated by the office of the Nairobi governor, which was not a party to the dispute.

Justice Angote agreed with the submissions, ruling that since the dispute is still pending determination, it was premature for the DCI to recommend that the company's title be revoked.

"It is also absurd to note that there were two investigations in the matter by the same DCI where they found that the company's title was not fraudulently acquired while in another investigation they conclude that it was fraudulent," ruled Angote.

Further, the judge said the DCI did not accord the firm and its director a fair hearing when they made the proposal to revoke their title without summoning them to record their statements.

At the centre of the dispute are two different title deeds held by Ms Koinange and Nairobi House Ltd, both claiming ownership of the prime land.

Whereas Koinange claims that her title is registered as 209/7577 with deed plan number 91752 for 4.8 acres, the company claims that their title is registered as 6863/75 under deed plan number 91751 for 7.7 acres for the same piece of land.

The company argued that they have a valid title with a 999-year lease from 1910 and that it owned the land until 2016 when Koinange allegedly invaded it and put up a perimeter wall.

But Koinange argues that the company is a ghost entity not registered in Kenya and that it want to forcefully grab the land she inherited from her father.

She swore that her father gave her the land before his death in 1981, and it wasn't until 1990 when she registered it in her name and was issued with the title.