Anti-graft agency successfully sues to get back Sh345m grabbed land

Integrity Centre

Integrity Centre in Nairobi which houses the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has recovered five acres of land worth Sh345 million in Nakuru that was grabbed from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

The land that is located at the heart of Nakuru City near St Xavier Primary School off Oginga Odinga Avenue was grabbed through private companies and proxies.

The EACC won a case filed at the Environment and Land Court against three individuals — Mr Saleh Chepkole, Mr Titus Kipkemboi and former Commissioner of Lands Wilson Gachanja — alongside two firms; Pembeni Limited and Liberty Assurance Company Limited.

“An order is hereby issued that the allocation and issuance of a lease over land parcel number Nakuru Municipality Block 5/221 on 16/11/1998 by the Commissioner of Lands Wilson Gachanja to Saleh Chepkole and Titus Kipkemboi and the subsequent transfers to the Pembeni Limited and Liberty Assurance Company Limited is null and void,” ruled Justice Mwangi Njoroge.

Both Pembeni Limited and Liberty Assurance Company Limited are linked to former Aldai MP Jim Choge, now deceased, and were used as conduits for the grabbing of the property, according to the EACC. The land had been grabbed together with the 20 housing units that stand on it. The houses were built in 1964.

According to court papers, the land was fraudulently allocated by Mr Gachanja to Mr Kipkemboi,who subsequently transferred it to Pembeni Limited. The firm then transferred the property to Liberty Assurance.

But in a judgement delivered on September 22, the court nullified all the transaction, cancelled all illegal entries in the Lands Register and ordered that the property be registered in the name of the National Treasury principal secretary to be held in trust for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

ECC filed the case in court on June 29, 2018, following investigations into a complaint received at its South Rift Regional Offices in Nakuru. Its investigations established that, on August 5, 1994, the property was illegally allocated to Mr Chepkole and Mr Kipkemboi by Mr Gachanja.

It emerged that on August 5, 1998, Mr Gachanja issued a Letter of Allotment forthe land despite the fact that it was set aside for use as a public utility reserved for government housing. 

Around November 17, 1998, Mr Chepkole and Mr Kipkemboi entered into an agreement with Ms Beatrice Kosgei and Mr Jim Choge, co-owners and directors of Pembeni Limited, to take over their purported interest contained in the Letter of Allotment.

On or about November 20, 1998, Pembeni Limited was registered as a proprietor of the suit property,after the lease was issued and registered in their favour.

Court documents indicate that, on November 14, 2003, Pembeni Limited entered into an agreement with Liberty Assurance to take over the land.

Following the ruling, the EACC has embarked on a process to ensure the rectification of the Nakuru Lands Register to have the illegal entries removed and a new title deed issued to the government as ordered by the court.