Jadiah Mwarania

Jadiah Mwarania, the Managing Director of the Kenya Reinsurance Corporation Limited. The parastatal is at the heart of a land saga over the authenticity of the title of a parcel of land it bought 25 years ago.

| Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

New twist in 25-year Kenya Re Sh6 billion land saga

What you need to know:

  • The bone of contention has been the authenticity of the title sold to the parastatal – with claims that it is fake.
  • Kenya Re says it bought the land for Sh550 million as LR No 12236 from Sceneries Limited.

A 25-year-old court case involving Kenya Re, city tycoon Samuel Macharia and former Gatundu MP Ngengi Muigai over a Sh6 billion land in Nairobi has taken a new twist with the filing of an affidavit by former Lands Commissioner Wilson Gachanja.

It is the first time Mr Gachanja, who has been out of the limelight, is being involved in the long-running feud, with a claim that his signature was forged.

The controversial 100 acres on Kiambu road, opposite the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) headquarters, has been a battlefield of interests ever since it was sold by Sceneries Limited to Kenya Re during the 1997 General Election.

The directors of Sceneries Ltd were Mr Macharia, Mr Muigai and a former permanent secretary, the late Joe Kibe.

The bone of contention has been the authenticity of the title sold to the parastatal – with claims that it is fake, and with Sceneries insisting that it is genuine. 

In his affidavit, Mr Macharia insists that the title sold to Kenya Re is genuine, and has filed another case to retrieve it from the DCI.

Bone of contention

The Nation has now established that Mr Gachanja has filed an affidavit at the High Court in the on-going Commercial Suit No 43 of 2020, saying that the signature appearing on the title sold to Kenya Re through a July 22, 1997, transfer “is a forgery meant to imitate and resemble my signature but it is not my signature … I don’t write that way”.

Whether that will resolve the dispute will depend on how the case develops from there.

Kenya Re says it bought the land for Sh550 million as LR No 12236 from Sceneries Ltd, with directors Macharia and Kibe – who died last year – acting on behalf of the company. Mr Muigai, who was also a shareholder of Sceneries Ltd, has filed separate cases on his ouster from the company.

The court papers indicate that the suit property was LR No 216/8 and had been bought from former first lady, Mama Ngina Kenyatta by the three men, and that they had appointed trustees to hold their shares. Mr Muigai placed a caveat on the land on June 14, 1989, after a feud with his co-directors.

The bone of contention in the courts is which of the two titles, LR No 12236 and LR 216/8 belonged to Sceneries Ltd. In one of its affidavits filed last year, Kenya Re has made a counterclaim of Sh6 billion from Sceneries Ltd if the title it bought is adjudged fraudulent.

According to letters recently filed in court, Joreth Limited, which owned the land, had asked a Nairobi real-estate firm, F E Charnley, to organise the transfer of LR 216/8 to President Jomo Kenyatta.

Intriguing case

While applying for water connection to the plot, Mr Charnley wrote on January 8, 1976, to the City Engineer: “One of the plots in this scheme which now has the LR no.216/6 is for transfer to His Excellency the President and His Excellency is most concerned that the transaction should be completed as quickly as possible.”

From the court records, the late President Kenyatta appears to have bought the land for Sh500,000 in January 1976 as LR 216/8 from Joreth Ltd, which was headed by former Githunguri MP Arthur Magugu.

It has been argued in court that title LR 12261 was for a proposed consolidation of a forest reserve that was adjacent to Kenyatta’s land and LR 216/8, which Kenyatta had bought from Joreth. The court has been told that the consolidation did not take place and Kenyatta had retained LR 216/8, and this is yet another battle ground.

In the court files, and in what is becoming an intriguing case, is a letter from the Government Printer signed by G K Runoh, which says that the LR 12236, which is claimed by Kenya Re “does not meet the required standards and specifications employed by the Government Printer.” Mr Runoh says that LR 12236 is “is not genuine and did not originate from this office”.

Another unresolved question is the whereabouts of the Raising Order dated July 4, 1997, and which ostensibly removed Mr Muigai’s caveat to allow the sale of the land.  It is claimed in court that this order was duly presented to the Registrar of Titles by an agent of Sceneries Ltd to allow for the consolidation that gave rise to LR 12236.

With the recent death of Sceneries Ltd’s director Kibe, the row is now left in the hands of Mr Muigai, Mr Macharia and Kenya Re as they navigate what is becoming one of the most complex land case in the country.

[email protected] @johnkamau1

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