What you need to know:
- The KDF insists that it owns the land, which is known as KDF Roysambu Camp
- The land, which gave Roysambu estate its name, is tucked between Thika Road Mall and Safari Park Hotel.
The National Assembly was Wednesday divided over a committee's report recommending the eviction of Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) from a disputed parcel in Roysambu, Nairobi.
The report of the House Committee on Lands, chaired by Kitui South MP Dr Rachael Nyamai, wants KDF to lose possession of the 17.16-acre land in Roysambu constituency for invading and evicting former workers on the land.
Other than KDF, it also emerged that Solio Construction Company Limited and Uchumi Supermarket among others are also interested parties in the land dispute.
However, what a majority of the MPs were uncomfortable with was a recommendation of the committee that the Ministry of Lands in consultation with the National Lands Commission (NLC) and Nairobi City County complete titling the land within 180 days of tabling the report.
The report was tabled on December 5, 2019, meaning that by now the titling, according to the committee, should have been done even before the report is either adopted or rejected by the report.
But MPs, Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), Aden Duale (Garissa Township) and Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) took issue with the recommendation saying it will be wrong to evict KDF from the land.
They also argued that parliament has no such powers as they are only vested in the High Court.
“You cannot use parliament to sanitise some irregular allocations of the land. Any transaction over the land will have to be based on the law. If it is illegal, it will go nowhere,” Mr Kimunya told the House.
Mr Kimunya also noted that Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki has already issued an advisory indicating that the land in question is not available as it is already alienated to KDF.
The disputed land belonged to the late Mayer Jacob Samuels and had a lease of 99 years from November 1, 1904.
When it expired in 2003, it reverted to the national government.
Mr Kimunya told the House that the government acquired this land in 1986 compulsorily for defense department.
“Meetings took place to discuss compensation. Valuation was done. The government paid the Commissioner of Lands, who deposited the amount in court. The court then forwarded the amount for the owner. The owner confirmed receipt of the money,” he added.
The petitioners wanted the committee to investigate the eviction and invasion by KDF and any claim of ownership by any other interested party.
The petition also wanted the committee to order for compensation and demolition of the petitioners’ premises and any other relief that may be available.
But Mr Duale questioned the findings of the committee saying they were not only illegal but unconstitutional.
“Why would anyone want to evict KDF from such land? The recommendations of the committee cannot stand as it would be tantamount to clothing the committee with jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 165 of the Constitution,” said Mr Duale.
Mr Duale noted that when the lease expired on November 1, 2003, “the land was cleverly allocated to the “workers” who used to work in the farm.
“Nothing can be as clear as this. This is pure fraud,” Mr Duale noted.
Ironically, said Mr Duale, the committee chose to ignore “this critical fact” and upheld the rights of the petitioners who were former workers on the land in question further demonstrating the mystery surrounding the petition.
The Garissa Township MP warned the House against encroaching on the jurisdiction of the courts.
“What is also rather obvious from the report is that the petition is one of convoluted and inter-twinned spider web. We should not be seen as conferring ourselves authority or powers that the Constitution did not confer upon us as this would be tantamount to redrafting the Constitution,” he said.
According to Mr Duale, the country should be told who deported the sons of the owner when he died noting that individuals behind owners of Solio Construction Company limited and the role of Uchumi supermarkets in this dispute must be told.
However, MPs Ndirangu Waihenya (Roy Sambu), who filed the petition on behalf of the former workers, and Antony Oluoch (Mathare) said justice must be done on the former workers.
“The former workers must be issued with title deeds,” Mr Ndirangu said with Mr Oluoch noting that though KDF claims to have paid Sh3 million for the acquisition of the land, “the receipts claiming to support the transaction is questionable.”
Other than titling, the committee also recommended that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) probes the officers in the Ministry of Lands who may have caused loss of public funds by effecting fraudulent transactions.
That the DPP prosecutes any person found culpable within 90 days of tabling of the report.