Jun 13, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Ex-minister Henry Kosgey sued in Sh1.3bn land row

Kaptien Farmers Society claims that, in 1994, Mr Kosgey tricked its officials into withdrawing a court case that sought to have the group declared legal owners of the prime land. Mr Kosgey’s push, the 18 members argue, was under the premise that Kaptien would be allocated the 449.9-acre land.

But a few days after Kaptien withdrew the suit, the land was allocated to Cheptililik Farmers Cooperative Society Limited.

Kaptien now wants the High Court to quash the transfer to Cheptililik. The society is also seeking Sh1.3 billion in damages from Mr Kosgey, the government and Cheptililik’s 225 members for losses incurred by the allegedly irregular land transfer 27 years ago.

None of the 231 defendants have filed responses to the case, but the High Court registry has been directed to give the case priority in allocation of hearing dates.

Kaptien Farmers Limited

The 18 members of Kaptien Farmers Limited claim that they lost their property, allocated to them by the commissioner of lands, through collusion by Mr Kosgey and Lands ministry officials. The petitioners want the court to hold Mr Kosgey, the National Land Commission, the Chief Land Registrar and Nandi District lands officers responsible for their loss. Kaptien claims that Mr Kosgey convinced them to file an out-of-court settlement, which cleared the way for transfer of the land to Cheptililik.

Mr William Arusei and Ms July Kiget, Kaptien’s lawyers, say that the group lost its land despite paying Sh604,032 in various allocation fees to the government in 1993. The Commissioner of Lands allocated the land to Kaptien after the payment and gave the members a freehold title.

“That on August 8, 1993 the Commissioner of Lands requested Kaptien to pay Sh360 to cover additional conveyance fees, registration and stamp duty, which they did,” Kaptien says in suit papers.

Documents in court show that the land was initially owned by Nandi Tea Estate Limited, which surrendered the property to the government in 1977 for fresh allocation.

“Kaptien had a total membership of 57 individuals plus their families living on the land in dispute as squatters,” Mr Arusei says.

On or about November 29, 1977 the government through the Commissioner of Lands offered to Kaptien a grant on the land, and issued it with a letter of allotment upon payment of Sh8,868.70.

Kaptien holds that, sometime in 1972, people from different parts of Nandi District invaded the land before registering Cheptililik.

It adds that Cheptililik mocked Kaptien members that they would lose both their land and money, even after the government had accepted payment of the purchase price and requisite fees.

Kaptien sued Cheptililik in 1994 seeking to be endorsed as the valid landowner.

Mr Kosgey allegedly approached Kaptien in 1994 and asked the society to withdraw the case and instead have the dispute resolved out of court.

Kaptien claims that its members agreed and were ready to sit down and resolve the land tiff, only to realize that the land was registered to Cheptililik shortly after the court case was withdrawn.

The terms of agreement were that Kaptien would get a refund of the money paid to government as purchase price and have some 17 of its members who were living outside the land in dispute allocated plots.

Kaptien agreed to have the matter arbitrated by the then District Commissioner, Nandi District, who was to settle the issue of refunding the money paid to the Commissioner of Lands.

But on October 15, 1995, the petitioners learnt that their land had already been sub-divided without being refunded Sh604,032 through the then District Commissioner, Nandi.

“Before the conclusion of the arbitration process, trickery was employed when title deeds were issued on October 15, 1995 to members of CCSL in the presence of Mr Kosgey, then Nandi MP and the then Local District Officer I (Do1) a Mr Omweno,” Kaptien says.

The 225 Cheptililik members received title deeds.

The petitioners claim that on May 30, 1996 some Sh230,000 being part of their refund was withdrawn without their consent and received by three Cheptililik members — Mr Lawrence Sitienei, Mr Zeth Kirwa Misoi and Mr Kiptanui Ngososei Kipsikwa.

“It is not acceptable and plainly illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional for the government to short-change the petitioners in the name of refunds and being promised a fresh allocation of alternate land elsewhere,” the petitioners state.

“In an irregular process and in bad faith, the Commissioner of Lands acted unreasonably and unconstitutionally by issuing title deeds to other parties while acting on an arbitration that was a still birth,” Kaptien adds.

Kaptien wants the court to quash title deeds issued to Cheptililik members.

The disgruntled group hired Afriland Valuers in 2018 to find out the value of the property.

The agency determined that the property is worth Sh1.3 billion, and Kaptien insists that its members should be paid the amount in damages.

The group also wants a refund of the Sh6.6 million spent on valuation of the land and to have the 231 respondents in the case to pay all legal fees spent in the tussle.

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