Land grabbing

An excavator demolishes a building built on the disputed Portland Cement land in Mavoko, Machakos County on October 18, 2023. 

| Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

Aimi Ma Lukenya: Society that sold Mavoko land shaky

What you need to know:

  • With the ownership of land shrouded in mystery, parties affected by demolitions could be in for more heartbreak.
  • Aimi Ma Lukenya’s documents claiming purchase of land from EAPCC and ownership of the property since 1980 were disputed in court.

The society that sold land to developers whose houses are being demolished in Mavoko has been consistently losing court cases where it needed to prove that it owned the property, an analysis by the Nation shows.

Aimi Ma Lukenya’s documents claiming ownership to the property since 1980, and also claiming that it existed as a registered society when it purportedly purchased the land from East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC), have been found wanting by separate courts at least two times.

This is even as the modus operandi of the society whose actions have caused investors to lose hundreds of millions of shillings keeps getting unveiled, with tales of disagreements, high-handedness and corruption emerging.

An undated video circulating online also depicts the dread that existed among the leadership of the society, betraying the shaky foundations of the estate’s ownership status — which some buyers say they were not told about when making purchases.

One of the cases Aimi Ma Lukenya lost was filed in 2014. The society was the accuser and EAPCC was the respondent.

The society, through its chairman, Julius Mutie Mutua, secretary-general Alex Kyalo Mutemi and treasurer Pascali Kiseli Basilio Mungui, wanted to have the EAPCC barred from accessing the land and bothering its dwellers.

Over 100 structures built on Portland Cement land in Mavoko destroyed

However, a title deed that the society’s officials presented in court to back the case was impeached, as was a letter from the Lands ministry on the owner of the parcel. EAPCC’s lawyer said they were forgeries. To reinforce its case, the company ferried the title of the property to court.

“The court, in presence of both parties’ advocates, was shown the original title document which was escorted to court and released to (EAPCC’s) advocate,” wrote Justice Charles Kariuki in a ruling issued in October 2014.

The decision was a debilitating blow to Aimi Ma Lukenya.

“They do not dispute that (EAPCC) is having the original title which was shown to the court,” said the judge. “There is no explanation as to why they do not have the original title if at all they bought the subject property herein.”

Justice Kariuki was also not convinced by the society’s argument that it had been in existence since 1980.

“They have not at all explained as to what they have been doing with the land since 1980. They want to convince the court that they own the same; which they acquired in 1980 and have not developed or occupied and with no evidence of purchase or membership contribution to purchase it,” he said.

Demolished houses

A demolished house that had been built on Portland Cement land in Mavoko, Machakos County, on October 17, 2023.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

“It is worth noting that no document has been attached to prove whether such a society exists and if registered, when? There are no records of its membership or even intimation as to who its members are and how many they are,” the judge added.

The judge’s decision was only a ruling and the case went on, though his verdict was a fatal body blow to Aimi Ma Lukenya. One other observation by the judge in his ruling was that there was no development in the land by the society.

“They have not demonstrated to be in occupation or to have any development which would be inconvenienced by the non-issuance of the orders sought,” argued the judge.

This might have inspired the rapid developments on the property from 2014, and the Aimi Ma Lukenya chairman was caught on video encouraging members to build structures in the undated video. He encouraged members to erect any structure, even a “nest”.

“In Kenya, a plot that has no structure attracts endless ownership disputes irrespective of whether it has either a metallic or a golden title deed. To end the prevailing ownership wrangles, everyone should set up a structure on his plot. If you can’t help us win the fight by setting up a structure on your plot, you are going to lose the plot. You can’t make us lose the entire parcel of land,” Mr Mutua says in the viral undated video in which he directs officials of the association to make a list of all the undeveloped plots and hand it to his office.

The other case where Aimi Ma Lukenya was dealt a blow was decided in 2022. It so happened that Aimi Ma Lukenya allowed contractors to mine murram from the disputed property to use it for the construction of the Nairobi Expressway in exchange for payment. Miffed, EAPCC moved to court to stop the company that was extracting murram.

Homes on Portland Cement land demolished after Ruto directive on land grabbers

In the course of that case, the judge established that EAPCC had ownership documents but the society didn’t. EAPCC’s lawyer told the court that the National Land Commission had found a title purportedly owned by Aimi Ma Lukenya was a forgery.

“I note (EAPCC) did annex copies of certificates of title, report from National Land Commission confirming title held by Aimi Ma Lukenya is a forgery; and images of excavation activities by certain trucks in support of its averments,” said Justice Christine Ochieng in a ruling of March 2022.

In the end, the judge stopped the murram extraction from the property, which was another slap on the face of Aimi Ma Lukenya.

The Sunday Nation has also seen a letter from unnamed members of the society earlier this year to Machakos Governor Wavinya Ndeti. The members were opposing their chairman’s appointment to the Machakos Land Task Force Committee.

In the May 23 letter, the members accused the society’s chairman and other officials of double allocation of plots, selling of plots earmarked for public utilities, regularly siphoning funds from plot owners in the name of bribing authorities, embezzling funds, and issuing death threats to those who raise their voices against the malpractices.

“Mr Julius Mutua (the chairman) has been, for the last few years, facilitating and giving orders to take land by force from members and customers,” they claimed, noting that plots that had previously been sold would be resold at higher prices and the initial owners given areas further inside the property.

Demolished houses

Demolished houses that were built on Portland Cement land in Mavoko, Machakos County, on October 17, 2023. 

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

“A lot of people have bought plots on this particular parcel of land and have kept their plots thinking it is in safe hands, only to be called by their neighbours and told their plots are being sold to third parties. Others have no idea that their plots have been sold,” said the members.

The chairman, however, denies those claims against him and other officials. He blames forces bent on grabbing the land for the “wild” allegations.

In court, the chairman speaks of a society that has had many divisions. He told Justice Kariuki that the property was acquired on May 20, 1980. He added that due to various degrees of contributions towards the purchase, there was a disagreement between members on the ratio of how the land was to be shared.

“It was thus agreed that the same be sold and the proceeds be shared as per the contributions. However, the wrangles persisted and the plan to sell the land was shelved,” reads the judge’s summary of the pleadings.

In 2011, the chairman told the court, the society’s membership resolved that the previous beacons be reset and members given portions.

“It was also resolved that portions of land could be sold to non-members and the proceeds be applied for the benefit of the society,” he told the court.

However, the court heard, some disgruntled members of Aimi Ma Lukenya approached EAPCC “with a view of wrestling control from the duly elected officials” as the chairman pleaded.

With such shaky foundations for the society and concurrences from courts that it has no legal claim to the land, it appears that the parties affected by the demolitions are staring at non-remedied losses.