A legal dispute is looming between residents of Kidutani/Mtwapa in Kilifi County and government officials over plans to re-adjudicate a parcel of land that was allocated to them almost 34 years ago.
In their petition in the Environment and Land Court in Malindi, the residents claim the process could disadvantage them and other beneficiaries.
Through lawyer Richard Ngari, the petitioners, Mr Rumba Matano and Ms Nazi Mrima, want the court to permanently restrain land officials from restarting a process that was concluded in 1988.
The acreage and value of the land are not captured in court documents but it comprises 177 plots and is home to the Bistara market, Bistara Primary School and a cattle dip.
Mr Ngari argues that the Land Adjudication Act does not contemplate re-adjudication of land that has already undergone the process.
Citing parliamentary proceedings from December 13, 2001, which are captured in the Hansard, they claim some government officials had tried several times to sell portions of the adjudicated land in their favour.
“This has at times precipitated … violent criminal acts which have been reported to the police,” the petitioners say.
They say attempts by the deputy county commissioners of Rabai and Kilifi South sub-counties to appoint a committee to restart the adjudication process has been overtaken by events and is illegal, null and void.
They have sued the Cabinet Secretary for Lands alongside other senior ministry officials, the Interior Cabinet Secretary and senior officers under him and the Attorney-General. The Kilifi County government has been named as an interested party.
The residents argue that towards the end of 1988, officials from the Ministry of Lands carried out a comprehensive adjudication as contemplated by section 5 to 27 of the Land Adjudication Act.
“Pursuant to the exercise, the petitioners were identified as rightful owners of their parcels of land among other beneficiaries,” they argue.
They added that the local government was allocated parcels of land for a primary school, a cattle dip and a public market.
At the end of the process and once the beneficiaries had been confirmed, Lands ministry officials issued them with temporary certificates confirming their plot numbers.
Those certificates, they argue, created a legitimate expectation that the process would be completed as contemplated by the Land Adjudication Act.
The residents claim that they also received letters confirming the status of each parcel of land and its owner per the adjudication register.
Mr Matano and Ms Mrima also argue that land officials in Kilifi failed to comply with the provisions of the Land Adjudication Act and this breached their constitutional rights.
The petitioners argue that early last month, the two deputy county commissioners called a baraza that was attended by Ministry of Lands officials and sought to restart the adjudication process.
They want the court to declare that any committee appointed after an adjudication register was prepared or after they received their confirmation letter is illegal, null and void.