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Judge got stadium land illegally, witness

By Jack Murima | July 3rd 2019

The Kakamega County Government has accused a judge of fraudulently obtaining a prime piece of land.

County Director of Physical Planning Stephen Chune said after conducting due diligence at the county and national land registries, they found that the land had not been leased to the judge and his wife.

In his affidavit, Mr Chune told Environment and Lands Court (ELC) Judge Nelly Matheka that Justice Sila Munyao and his wife Linda Chepkorir Ruto had been issued with a title deed “under dubious circumstances”.

Chune said the petitioners allegedly obtained the land during the transition period from local authority to county governments when “many fraudulent deals were being conducted by employees”.

“Any payments received and receipts issued after March 27, 2013 were based on records inherited from the municipal council on belief that the title was genuine only to discover the contrary. Endeavors to obtain a copy of the lease from the Land Registry have borne no fruits,” said Chune.

He added that there were efforts to cross-examine the chief land registrar over fraud claims.

Justice Munyao and his wife went to court seeking to repossess or be compensated for the half-acre (0.2025 hectares) land parcel number Kakamega/Municipality/Block 111/7 valued at Sh42.9 million.

The petitioners contended that the county government demolished a Sh2.5 million perimeter wall around the suit land and annexed it to Bukhungu Stadium without compensating them.

Classic hotel

Justice Munyao, an ELC judge, said he bought the land with a view of establishing a classic hotel due to its proximity to Kakamega town.

Chune annexed a letter dated June 25 and signed by the director of land administration, saying the land had been allocated to M/S Naju Enterprises on July 4, 2001, where the firm was to pay for the property to the Commissioner of Lands.

“These efforts, however, did not materialise, as there were indications that this parcel was earmarked for expansion of the stadium. The position of this office, therefore, is that the allocation of the parcel in question remains suspended and no lease document has ever been issued over the said land,” read the letter.

Chune said the matter would be investigated by relevant Government agencies because any transactions had not been processed and/or approved by the minister.

He further stated that the land remained the property of the county government and was not private land as claimed by the petitioners, which rendered their transaction null and void.

But Justice Munyao submitted that he bought the land from the initial lease holder, Joseph Kiratu Kioi, on December 2, 2009, way before the county government was even contemplated.

“Prior to filing this case, we had the apprehension that since they are the lessors, the county government may use its influence to tamper with records at the Lands Registry. Having this in mind, we asked for copies of records, among them certificate of lease.

“The respondents have not produced a lease or green card that contradicts what we have provided. Due to the pressure of this case, they have gone to create letters to curry favour with their position, letters that were never there before,” the judge said.

Justice Matheka ordered the matter mentioned on July 22 when the parties shall highlight their written submissions.

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