Your documents are fake, judge told in battle over Sh2.5m land

Justice Sila Munyao in court on October 27 last year. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

A land’s court judge may have joined a growing list of victims of multiple land allocation, after it emerged that the documents he has for a prime property could be fake. 

Justice Sila Munyao moved to court to challenge Sally Cherutich who is laying claim to the 0.048 hectares valued at Sh2.5 million.

Munyao, who sits in the Environment and Land Court, that is mandated to determine land disputes, told court that he is the legal owner of the property in Nakuru’s Naka Estate.   

However, on Tuesday, Nakuru Land Registrar Raymond Gitonga told Justice Dalmas Ohungo that Munyao’s documents do not exist in the registry.

In his case against Cherutich, Justice Munyao said he had documents to prove ownership of the land.

Transfer documents

The judge is in possession of a certificate of lease, transfer documents from a Mr Samuel Kiplangat dated October 27, 2010, a sale agreement dated July 2, 2010 and receipts for payments of premium stand and rent.

He also has a letter of consent dated July 1, 2010, signed by the then Commissioner of Lands Sammy Komen Mwaita.

However, in his testimony, Gitonga told court the land registry only recognises Cherutich’s documents.

“I personally searched in the registry and found no other documentation; lease, Green Card or White Card or records over the suit land, save for Cherutich’s,” said Gitonga.

He said there can never be two sets of documents for land in different names. “If two sets of documents exist, then one must be a forgery.”

Gitonga said no other document can challenge the certificate of lease for the suit land issued to Cherutich on September 6, 2018 and a White Card she possesses of the land.

According to Gitonga, Cherutich was issued with the certificate of lease following a recommendation by the Chief Land Registrar in Nairobi.

He testified that the land office in Nakuru received a lease for the land dated August 9, 2018 in the name Sally Cherutich from Nairobi with reference number as 308230. Gitonga told court that they booked the lease for registration on September 6, 2018.

“The registration was done the same day and Cherutich was issued with Certificate of Lease and a White Card for the land in good faith,” he said.

Gitonga said there was no Green Card for the land before September 6, 2018, which would imply the land belonged to the government.

He said they received a complaint from Munyao on October 11, 2018 over the land after which the District Land Registrar put a restriction on the land.

He said Munyao presented documents forcing the registry to write a letter to Nairobi on October 16, 2018 for confirmation of existence of other contrary documents.

“We got response on December 5, 2018. The letter stated that Cherutich’s documents were the legal documents and there were no other documents,” Gitonga said.

He said the Chief Land Registrar advised them to proceed and register Cherutich’s lease. “In the absence of other contrary documents concerning the land, we were advised to register the lease of Cherutich and issue her with certificate and White Card,” he said.

Gitonga testified that documents belonging to the judge have been forwarded to the DCI for investigations.

He said he was aware of fraud cases in the land registry and that they’ve dealt with a number of them, including missing files and planted files.

Gitonga was testifying to counter Munyao’s testimony on October 27, 2020. Munyao testified that he leased the land on December 2, 2010.

Committed crime

He accused the lands registry of fraudulently transferring the land to Cherutich and termed Cherutich’s claim to the land a fraud.

“The land registry committed a crime by illegally issuing the defendant with the title while aware there was another certificate of lease for the suit land,” said Munyao.

He also accused the registry of tampering with records. Munyao said the registry caused the disappearance of the file containing genuine records for the land. He wants court to declare him the genuine owner of the land and declare the lease issued to Cherutich  fake.

He also said he paid Sh40,000 stamp duty and was to pay a rent of Sh1,400 annually for the land he said has possessed for the past nine years.

He said on October 7,2018, he had gone to inspect the land when he found two people trying to fence it off. Cherutich will testify on June 22.