Seven judges, two families, 166 acres and 37 years of legal battle

Seven judges have handled the case since it was filed in court in 1986. [istockphoto]

A case pitting two families in Baringo County over ownership of a 166-acre plot has dragged on in court for 37 years and there seems to be no end to it.

Seven judges have handled the case since it was filed in court in 1986, and the matter is yet to be determined.

Wilson Amge Lagat, 85, and the family of the Kaptebererwo Kaibos have been fighting over a plot in Eldama Ravine sub-county.

The dispute started in 1986 when Kaibos filed a complaint claiming he had been tricked by Lagat into selling his plot sometime in the early 1970s.

Kaibos said the initial arrangement was that he was leasing the land. He said he was told to accompany Lagat to Settlement Fund Trustee office in Nakuru County thinking the transition was about leasing the land.

Kaibos, in his complaint, said he was never paid any money apart from the matatu fare to and from Nakuru.

He wants the land reverted to him.

Amge, however, said Kaibos sold him the land at Sh7,000 and signed documents to have the land transferred to him on June 26, 1976.

He added that he paid the Settlement Fund Trustee Fund Sh30,000.

The complaint was heard before the district officer, and local chief, and in a verdict delivered on November 5, 1986, the panel resolved the land belonged to Amge, who according to them had all the legal documents.

In 1989, Amge said he was issued with a title deed but Kaibos's sons trespassed onto the property again prompting him to file a suit at the High Court in Nakuru in 1990.

In the suit, he wanted Kaibos's sons evicted from the land. Court documents indicate Kaibos's sons did not file defence.

Justice BK Tanui, who heard the case at the time, ordered that Kaibos's family vacate the suit land. The Officer Commanding Eldama Ravine police station was then served with an order, dated March 22, 1993, directing him to ensure Amge took possession of the land.

Amge filed another suit against the sons of Kaibos in the High Court in Nakuru claiming there had been no solution to the dispute despite the matter being discussed by different parties.

This time around, Kaibos's sons (Kiprono Kabreberewo, Kiptoo, Toroitich, and Joseph Kiprono) filed a counterclaim. The court then noted, from documents filed before it, that the land was initially allocated to Kiprono Kabreberewo.

Justice D. M Rimita then questioned whether there was fraud in the transfer of the land to Amge.

“I look at the demeanour of the witnesses who gave evidence before me. The plaintiff did not impress me as a truthful witness,” read part of the judgment delivered on January 31, 1995.

The judge said Amge did not produce any receipt indicating he paid the Sh7,000. Justice Rimita said the receipts produced in court were with respect to another parcel of land, LR No 615. He said Amge admitted he owned another land. The judge said Kiprono Kabreberewo and other defendants were truthful witnesses.

“No evidence has been produced to show any connection between LR No 615 and 178. I have looked at the documents produced by the plaintiff in support of his case. In my considered view, they contradict rather than support the plaintiff’s case,” ruled the judge. 

In October 2015, Amge went back to court and sought an order to have the March 2015 order reviewed and his case reinstated. Justice Sila Munyao, in a ruling delivered on January 30, 2018, dismissed the application.

In April 2021, Amge approached the Senate seeking to have the matter investigated. The then Lands CS Farida Karoney noted that following the judgment in Civil Case No. 164 of 1990 (High Court at Nakuru and Civil Appeal No. 96 of 1995 (Court of Appeal in Nakuru), the title issued to Amuge had been cancelled.

Karoney said the judgment issued before the High Court in Nakuru directing it to compensate Amge was still in force. The then CS, on a September 14, 2021, response, said the judgment will be placed before the Settlement Fund Board Trustees for appropriate action.

The matter is still pending at the Senate.

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