Investors, varsity lose bid to join squatters' land case


University of Eastern Africa, Baraton. [Courtesy]

A private university and more than 1,200 individuals’ land defence quest is in limbo after the Supreme Court declined to allow them to join a dispute between the family of the late Mark Too and a group of squatters.

Judges Philomena Mwilu, Mohamed Ibrahim, Njoki Ndungu, Isaac Lenaola  and William Ouko ruled that the application by the parties was coming too late in the day.

They argued that it came when the dispute between the late Too’s family and Sirikwa Squatters Group over the 25,000-acre had reached a crucial stage.

“They have not met the threshold for admission as interested parties as they have all failed to establish the prejudice they will suffer. The appeal has numerous interested parties whose cause revolves around what all the interested parties seek to raise,” they said.

Among those whose applications were declined were the University of Eastern Africa-Baraton, Law Society of Kenya, Kibwari Plc Ltd and 1,246 individuals who claimed they had bought a portion of the disputed land and will be affected should the squatters be allowed to take possession.

Slept on rights

According to the Appellate Court, the institutions and the individuals had a chance to join the dispute when it was still before the Environment and Land Court and the Court of Appeal but they slept on their rights to be heard.

The university and the individuals had claimed that they were not aware of the suit and were not a party to the Court of Appeal proceedings until the court ordered that their titles, which are part of the disputed land, be cancelled.

The apex court, however, ruled that there was undue delay by the parties since the Court of Appeal gave them an opportunity in 2017 when the dispute was advertised in the newspapers for all interested parties to join.

“They contend that their titles were cancelled as a consequence of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and will suffer economic losses. However, they have not been diligent in pursuing their interest with the undue delay of attempting to join the case.”

The judges affirmed that only parties who participated in the case at the Court of Appeal will proceed with the hearing of the case where Too’s family are challenging a decision to allow the squatters to take the land.