EACC in bid to recover KPA land valued at Sh380 million

The EACC headquarters in Nairobi.

Integrity Centre, the EACC headquarters in Nairobi. The commission has moved to court to recover two acres of land worth Sh380 million that was illegally allocated to a private developer in Mombasa.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The anti-corruption commission has moved to court to recover two acres of land worth Sh380 million that was illegally allocated to a private developer in Mombasa.

In documents filed in the Environment and Land Court in Mombasa, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) wants the ownership of the land reverted to the Kenya Ports Authority.

The EACC says the land known as MSA/Block XLVII/156, in the Liwatoni area housing the Kenya Fisheries offices was illegally alienated in 1996 by the then commissioner of lands Wilson Gacanja and allocated to Bawazir Glass Works Ltd, now trading as Milly Glassworks Ltd.

The agency says the property was illegally hived off from land parcel MSA/Block/XLVII/109, measuring about two acres belonging to KPA.

“The illegally allocated portion was under lease from KPA to the then Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Fisheries Department and currently the State Department for Fisheries and Blue Economy,” said the EACC.

Court documents show that the process of alienating the property and its subsequent allocation started with a letter of allotment issued to the company on February 12, 1996 by Mr Gacanja.

In the letter, the commissioner allegedly referred to the land parcel as an un-surveyed light industrial plot in Mombasa.

“Despite several correspondences emanating from then Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife to Mr Gacanja warning that the land belonged to the Ministry and was not available for allocation, a title was subsequently illegally issued to Bawazir Glassworks Limited,” the EACC said.

The EACC indicates that it has sued Mr Gacanja for fraud and other offences.

Court documents also show that East African Railways and Harbours became the owner of the land parcel in 1965 before leasing it to the government for a term of 82 years and one month in 1966.

Under the lease agreement, the land was to be used by the department of fisheries. In 1969, the ownership of the land was transferred to the East African Harbours Corporation (KPA) and in 2002, the ownership document was issued to the government parastatal.

“In the circumstances, the suit property was vested in the government of Kenya reserved for public use and hence not available for alienation,” the EACC said through its advocate Lai Clare.

Evidence produced by the EACC indicates that the original land was irregularly subdivided to create two parcels and allocated to the company in 1996 whose use was described as light industrial.

Following the illegal subdivision and allocation, the EACC alleges that attempts, through correspondence, to have the company surrender the title for cancellation on the basis that it was illegally hived off bore no fruit. 

The ethics body further notes that MSA/BLOCK/XLVII/109 and any subsequent subdivisions, including the property in question, is public land and were not available for allocation to private persons.

“Consequently, the purported subdivision, issuance of letter of allotment and lease by the commissioner of lands for MSA/BLOCK/XLVII/156 was illegal, fraudulent, null and void and conferred no interest or right to the company,” the EACC said lawyer said.

In particular, the EACC accuses the company of discreetly soliciting allocation and registration of the property while knowing that it had been set aside for public use.

“In collusion with Mr Gacanja, the firm caused the land to be subdivided with an intent to defeat the government’s interest in or title deed to the property. The defendants shut their eyes to the obvious fraudulent alienation of public land,” the lawyer said.

The EACC accuses Mr Gacanja of fraudulently issuing a lease to the firm while aware that the land was public and not available for allocation.

“The commissioner arbitrarily alienated the land to the prejudice of KPA, wilfully and carelessly failed to comply with the applicable law relating to alienation or disposal of government land.”

The commissioner is also accused of abuse of office by dishonestly conferring a benefit to the company at the expense of the public.  

EACC wants the court to declare that the subdivision of the land and its allocation to the firm is null and void. It wants the registration of the property to the company cancelled.

It also wants the court to direct the company to vacate the property and another stopping it from interfering with it. 

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.