A Lands court judge is seeking Sh8.5 million as legal expenses he incurred to recover a prime parcel of land in Nakuru that was allegedly grabbed.
Justice Sila Munyao, in his application filed through lawyer Matiri Mburu and Chepkemboi, seeks to be paid Sh8,555,115 as legal after a case against Mr Peter Odande and Ms Sally Cherutich.
The judge had sued the two alongside the Nakuru Lands registrar and Chief Lands Registrar for conspiring to dispossess him of a prime parcel of land known as Nakuru Municipality block 23/728 situated within Nakuru city boundaries.
In a judgment delivered on June 6, the Environment and Lands judge Mwangi Njoroge ruled in favour of Justice Munyao declaring him the genuine owner of the suit title.
The judge quashed the title held by Mr Ondande and Ms Cherutich and issued orders permanently restraining them from further dealing with the land.
He directed the defendants to jointly pay Justice Munyao Sh2.5 million as exemplary damages as well as award the judge the cost of the suit.
“The taxed costs for this suit shall be borne by the defendants jointly and severally,” stated Justice Njoroge.
In line with the judgment, Mr Munyao, currently the Environment and Land judge, has moved to file a party bill of costs totalling to the amount.
Some of the expenses covered in the bill include the cost of instituting a legal suit for the recovery of the land and cancellation of the defendants’ title, service of the court documents to defendants as well as attending court hearings.
In the case filed in 2018, the judge together with his wife, Linda Chepkurui Ruto, accused the defendants of conspiring to fraudulently procure the preparation of a fake lease and certificate of lease with the aim of dispossessing him of his land.
Through lawyer Njuguna Matiri, Justice Munyao claimed that the defendants had illegally tampered with court records causing the disappearance of genuine records which indicate he is the owner of the suit property.
He produced a certificate of lease, transfer documents, sale agreement and receipts for payments of premium stand and rent.
He also produced a letter of consent dated July 1, 2010, signed by the then Commissioner of Lands Sammy Komen Mwaita.
The defendants in their counterclaim however maintained claim on the land accusing the judge of fraud.
They insisted that they are the owners, basing their evidence on the records at the Lands office in Nakuru and Nairobi.
Ms Cherutich claimed to have been allotted the land in 1997 and obtained the lease on August 9,2018 before selling it three weeks later to Mr Peter Ondande through a sale agreement dated September 3, 2018 at a cost of Sh2.5 million.
Witnesses from both the Principal Land Registration office and the Chief Lands Registrar’s office recognised Ms Cherutich’s documents as the genuine ones.
However, Nakuru Lands Court Judge Mwangi Njoroge in his ruling poked holes in the inconsistencies in the defendants’ statements.
He questioned why Ms Cherutich took more than two decades to apply for lease documents, the fast pace at which the processing of the documents took and why she hastily sold the land within three weeks before the processing of the title.
The judge further questioned why Ms Cherutich failed to call crucial witnesses from the lands office who processed their documents while the Chief registrar failed to produce a presentation book.
“From the foregoing, it would appear to me that the defendants jointly and severally knew even as at the registration of the first defendant of the existence of the plaintiffs’ records somewhere in the Land Registry.
Nevertheless, they hurriedly processed the defendant’s title with the full knowledge that with the disappearance of the plaintiffs’ records from the Lands office, the latter would not be in a position to establish before any forum their claim that these records had ever existed,” ruled Justice Njoroge.
The defendants through their lawyer Wambeyi Makomere have moved to challenge the judgement at the court of Appeal.