Auctioneer contracted to evict Uhuru’s PA embroiled in fresh saga

Demolished house

Niraj Shah and his wife Avani Shah on November 8, 2022 walk on what remains of their house that is located on School Lane in Westlands after an unknown gang evicted them and demolished their house on Monday.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Details are now emerging of the plot that culminated in the demolition of Niraj Shah’s home and the eviction of his family from their land in Nairobi.  

Investigations by the Nation now reveal that the scheme to kick out Mr Shah, a Kenyan of British origin, and his wife, Avani, a Kenyan citizen, started in 2015 when suspected fraudsters halted the issuing of a land rate receipt to Shah, 54.

It was set in motion last week when senior police officers slapped the family with a fake court order.

On Wednesday last week, just two days before the unlawful demolition took place, three police officers in their official vehicle went to the premises located on School Lane in Westlands and handed over a court order allegedly authorising the demolition of the house.

Niraj Shah speaks to journalists on Tuesday.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The Nation cannot reveal their identities due to legal reasons and the sensitivity of the matter as it is now being investigated by detectives attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations’ Land Fraud Unit.

Early last week, a gang almost demolished another house in the neighbourhood by mistake, thinking it was Mr Shah’s property.

Last Friday, Ms Avani was at home when she heard a commotion from the gates.

“I heard a lot of noise from the gate. I was sure that it was a crowd of people but it was hard for me to exactly know what was happening and I could not see the guard,” she said.

At the gate, the guard was being assaulted by the invading mob. He was badly injured on the face and had to have his left eye bandaged.

Moments later, Ms Avani saw dozens of young men swarming into the compound, jumping in from a neighbour’s home as others rushed in through one of the gates.

Identified himself

A man who identified himself as an auctioneer told her she had 30 minutes to empty the house as the gang wanted to demolish it.

“I started by calling my husband, who took over 45 minutes to arrive here and even the process of getting my stuff out was not complete since the youths were all over the place,” she said.

The Nation established that Zack Baraza, the auctioneer, is based in the city but contested the Bungoma county governor seat on a United Democratic Party ticket, which is linked to businessman Cyrus Jirongo.

Mr Baraza, confirmed that his firm, Siuma Auctioneers, was behind the demolition before he disconnected the call and became unavailable.

“Yes, we were hired to carry out the eviction by one of our clients. I’m in the middle of something, let me call back later,” said Mr Baraza when contacted by the Nation.

The company was involved in controversy two years ago when it was hired by former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to evict Jomo Gecaga, former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s personal assistant, from his apartment over rent arrears.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's personal assistant Jomo Gecaga.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Mr Shah said he was planning to contest the eviction order in court. He termed it illegal and said he had already engaged with the British High Commission over the matter.

The father of four accused the auctioneering company of destroying property without proper documentation.

As he showed reporters around the compound, police officers, whom the family accused of failing to stop the eviction were busy combing the area.

“This property is owned by my late father. I don’t owe any cash to anyone and I have nothing to do with the property eviction notice. We are still wondering who these people are who want us out of what we legally own,” he said.

Managing the property

According to him, when his father died, his mother was left in charge of managing the property but she later handed it to him.

The succession process started after his father’s death in 2010 and is still going on.

Documents in our possession show that trouble started for Mr Shah in 2015 when he wanted to pay land rates but could not be issued with an invoice, which has never happened since 1978.

When he visited the Nairobi County Lands Office, he was shocked to find out that the property was listed under the names of two unknown individuals.

“They told me that they could not tell who the sole owner of the property is. It is then that I started the process of reconstruction of the documents I had of the land,” he said.

The succession process is yet to end as the family has to prove that his father died in 2010 before they can claim ownership of the property.

Mr Shah said that for three years starting in 2016, suspicious people kept coming to his gate to ask about the ownership of the land. In 2019, he lodged a case in court because he was worried that someone was out to defraud him of what he believed belonged to him.

In 2021, he received a land rate fee arrears notice indicating the family owed the Nairobi City County Sh30 million. Alarmed, Mr Shah wrote to the now defunct Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS), asking how he could owe such a huge amount yet he had been faithfully paying the rates over the years. The NMS Director of Lands told Mr Shah to ignore the notice, terming it a “forgery”.

Milimani court has issued two orders

The Nation has established that a Milimani court has issued two orders in connection with the property, but the one to carry out the eviction was forged.

According to documents, Lariak Properties Ltd had gone to court seeking to evict Metro Pharmaceuticals Ltd from the land. Mr Shah owns the pharmaceutical company. However, he said there was no link between the company and the property.

“I own the company but it has no relationship with this family property. It is a clear indication that Lariak Properties Ltd do not have any facts about this land,” he said.

One of the orders stated that the OCSs Parklands and Spring Valley Police should offer protection as auctioneers evicted Metro Pharmaceutical Ltd from the property.

“…pending the hearing of the application an order of injunction is hereby issued directing the defendant whether by itself, servants or employees or whoever is acting in its capacity to be denied occupation or possession of the land,” the orders purported to have been issued by Principal Magistrate H.M. Ng’ang’a read.

The orders were issued on October 18, 2022.

It further stated that the occupants should be issued the eviction orders on November 1, 2022.

In the original court order, it barred Lariak from gaining access to the property pending the hearing and termination of the case.

It had also asked the OCS Parklands and Spring Valley to ensure compliance with the court orders.

“That an order of injunction be and is hereby issued directing the defendant whether by itself, servants or employees or whoever is acting on its behalf to be restrained from trespassing the plaintiff possession of the piece of land,” the ruling read.

However, it indicated that the order, issued on November 3, 2022, should not be interpreted as an eviction.

According to the Registrar of Companies, Lariak Properties Ltd is owned by Nathaniel Kipkemboi, Samuel Chepkwony, John Rotich, and Joel Kiplang’at.