Ex-lands boss Sammy Mwaita fined Sh30m over grabbed Nyali property

Former Lands Commissioner Sammy Komen Mwaita.

Former lands commissioner Sammy Komen Mwaita. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media group

The Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has recovered public land valued at more than Sh70 million that was allocated to private developers in Nyali, Mombasa County. 

Environment and Land Court Judge Lucas Naikuni ruled that the title to the property (the land parcel Land NO.MN/I/2396- House Number HG143 Nyali ) was unlawfully issued to Bernsoft Ltd and Equitronics Ltd. 

“The land registrar Mombasa to cancel and revoke the certificate of title issued to Bernsoft Ltd and Equitronics Ltd relating to Land NO.MN/I/2396- House Number HG143,” said the judge. 

The judge also ordered the Mombasa land registrar to issue a certificate of title relating to the said parcel of land to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). 

In a precedent setting ruling, the Judge Naikuni also ordered the two companies and former Commissioner of lands Sammy Mwaita to pay general damages of Sh30 million for denying the government use of the property for a period of 22 years. 

Mr Mwaita has been additionally ordered to personally pay Sh5 million as a result of abuse of office, breach of trust and or tort misfeasance for facilitating the illegal acquisition of the land. 

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Corruption (KACC) filed the case in 2009, where it sued the two private companies and Mr Mwaita. 

EACC said in the court documents that the land had been preserved for the construction of a house for the members of staff of the then Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA). 

The survey of the property had been completed in 1976 a four-bedroom bungalow with a servant quarter was constructed on it. 

“The said house was entered into the government building register as HG 1 and later on changed to HG 143,” the EACC said. 

The commission further told the court that property and the house thereon formed part of government land reserved for use by and to be held by the then DCA as a public utility. 

Sometimes in the year 2000, the EACC alleged that the defendants fraudulently and illegally used the Survey Plan and the Deed Plan prepared by the then East Africa Community and registered with the Director of Surveys to prepare and register a Grant in the name of Bernsoft Ltd.

EACC said the company then transferred the property to Equitronics Ltd without the consent or approval of the Board of Directors of the KCAA, the Minister for Transport, Minister of Lands and Minister for Finance. 

It further claims due process was not followed. 

“At the time of the allocation, the suit property and the house thereon had already been allocated and reserved for use by members of staff of the KCAA and who were in its actual occupation,” said EACC. 

It further submitted that the property was, therefore, not available for alienation or allocation to Bernsoft Ltd. 

“The allocation of the suit property and the house thereon to Bernsoft Ltd and the subsequent transfer to Equitronics ltd was done unlawfully and corruptly,” it said, adding that Mr Mwaita aided the entire process of illegal acquisition of the land by the private developers. 

Reacting to the judgment, the EACC said it will continue to pursue punitive sanctions against public officials who facilitate grabbing of public land or other property in the execution of its asset recovery mandate.