Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua will pursue a Sh1.5 billion piece of land near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) whose title deed he claims a retired civil servant obtained in 2019 after tampering with records at the Lands registry.
Appearing before Justice Oguttu Mboya yesterday, Mr Gachagua said through his lawyer that he will pursue the case even after it emerged that Mr John Michael Ohas had withdrawn an earlier case challenging Mr Gachagua’s title deed.
His lawyer Philip Nyachoti told the judge Mr Ohas had initially sued Mr Gachagua, seeking revocation of his title deed, claiming it was fraudulent, but he withdrew the case to defeat his client’s plan for a counter-suit.
The Environment and Land Court judge extended the order barring Mr Ohas from selling or transferring the disputed land, pending the determination of the case. The case was adjourned to October 23.
Mr Gachagua says in the petition that Mr Ohas illegally obtained a title deed in December 2019 and registered it in his company’s name Columbus Two Thousand Ltd.
“After tampering with the records at the Lands office and illegally obtaining the second title and thereby purportedly extinguishing the plaintiff’s title from the records, the defendants then withdrew the suit without the same being determined on merits,” Mr Nyachoti said.
Mr Gachagua says he bought the land for Sh24 million from Mr Peter Nduati and Ms Pauline Muringe who owned it through Karandi Farm Ltd. He says the two were allocated the land in 1999 for Sh554,000.
According to Mr Gachagua, the land is currently charged to Equity Bank over a loan of Sh200 million.
Mr Ohas, a former director of physical planning in the Ministry of Lands, had alleged in his case that he was allocated the plot in 1994 by former President Daniel Moi, among others that included former minister Taita Towett, Mr Francis Maritim and Afro-Anglo Investment.
He said he later learnt that land had been transferred to Wamunyoro Investment Ltd, where the DP and his wife are listed as directors.
Mr Ohas later sought the intervention of the National Land Commission (NLC) in April 2017 and the chief land registrar and was advised that he could be assisted by the police and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
The NLC upheld the title in favour of Wamunyoro Investment Ltd and gazetted it in the Kenya Gazette on July 17, 2017.
Mr Gachagua says the NLC’s decision was later affirmed by the High Court in November 2020, but Mr Ohas filed another case, which he withdrew in June 2022.
“The plaintiff avers that the withdrawal of the said suit was mischievous and intended to defeat the plaintiff’s right to file a counter-claim,” said Mr Nyachoti.
The Deputy President wants the court to declare him the owner of the property and the new records at the ministry of Lands are fraudulent. He is also seeking damages.