Web of intrigue over Sh500m city land

From Left, John Mburu Wangari, Samuel Karanja, John Njoroge, Stephen Mwangi, Simon Njoroge and George Ngigi at Milimani Law Court on January 15,2015 where they denied a charge of forcefully entering a piece belonging to Plover Haunt Limited with intention of possessing it. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The intrigues that bedevil the properties were set off by an advertisement in local newspapers in March 2011 by three men who claimed adverse possession of the Karen land

  • In August 2013, a Mr Martin Odinga Waluchio and a Mr Friedrich Pietz made the second attempt to take over the property, claiming they had bought it from Roger in 1994 for Sh30 million.

  • In December 2014, Ms Agnes Kagure Kariuki, a prominent business operative and Jubilee Party activist, took over the Karen property. Ms Kagure alleges to have bought the property from Mr Robson in November 2011 for Sh100 million in cash

The battle for the Sh500 million property in Karen and Upper Hill belonging to Mr Roger Robson, a deceased Kenyan of British descent, took a new twist this week when his lawyer was charged with forgery.

Mr Guy Elms Spencer was charged with five counts of forging Mr Robson’s will, the power of attorney given by the deceased, uttering false statements with regard to the two documents and using the same to try to seize property.

Mr Robson died in August 2012, aged 71, at a Nairobi hospital and left behind a 5.18 acre piece of land in Karen and a half an acre plot with rental houses in Upper Hill, both estimated to be worth Sh500 million.

Since his death, the property has become the subject of protracted court battles pitting Mr Elms, who says he is the executor of the will, against a number of people who claim the properties.

ONLY CHILDREN

Mr Robson and his brother Michael are the only children of Patrick Beaumont Robson and his wife Betty Fairfox Robson, British settlers who moved to Kenya in 1930s.

In 1947, the family registered a company known as Plovers’ Haunt Limited as their land holding vehicle in Kenya through which they acquired the Upper Hill property in 1978.

The patriarch of the family died in 1974.

Michael sold his interest in the company to his brother in 1995 for Sh21 million and moved to the UK.

Mr Robson never married and had no children. After his mother’s death in 1993, he became the sole director and beneficiary of the company.

NEARLY INELLIGIBLE

By 2010, his health had deteriorated to the extent that his handwriting and signature had become nearly illegible.

He was advised by his bank to give his lawyer the power of attorney to act on his behalf in financial transactions.

However, the police now claim that Mr Spencer forged Mr Robson’s will, which he purportedly drew up in 1997, as well as the power of attorney.

Forensic experts at the Directorate of Criminal Investigation say that Mr Robson’s signature in the two documents presented by the lawyer do not match the deceased’s known signatures.

INTRIGUES

However, all lawyers who drew up the Will and the power of attorney, and those who witnessed them, have sworn affidavits or recorded police statements confirming the authenticity of the documents.

The intrigues that bedevil the properties were set off by an advertisement in local newspapers in March 2011 by three men who claimed adverse possession of the Karen land.

Messrs Leonard Omwega Maina, Meshack Masese Obae and Sammy Lotasa claimed that they had been squatters in the land since 1995 and wanted to claim it.

They said Mr Robson left for the UK in 1994 and never came back. 

By law, anyone who has occupied a piece of land continuously for 12 years can legally claim it, but in this case there were no squatters in Mr Robson’s land and he had never left the country.

SECOND ATTEMPT

In August 2013, a Mr Martin Odinga Waluchio and a Mr Friedrich Pietz made the second attempt to take over the property, claiming they had bought it from Roger in 1994 for Sh30 million.

But a report prepared in February this year by Mr Antipas Nyanjwa, the deputy director of investigations and forensic services at the National Land Commission (NLC), said all the documents used in the purported transaction were forgeries.

However, in a letter addressed to Mr Spencer, the NLC chief executive officer withdrew the report on June 30, 2017 “due to new developments.” The lawyer said he has not seen the letter. 

On the morning of June 6, 2014 gospel singer Ringtone (real name Alex Apoko) also invaded the property, claiming that he was acting for an uncle whose name he did not disclose. He also did not produce a contract of purchase, though he claimed he had one.

TYPING ERROR

In December 2014, Ms Agnes Kagure Kariuki, a prominent business operative and Jubilee Party activist, took over the Karen property. Ms Kagure alleges to have bought the property from Mr Robson in November 2011 for Sh100 million in cash.

One of the issues likely to be determined is the difference between Ms Kariuki’s Kenya Revenue Authority Personal Identity Number and the one used in the transaction.

Lawyer Michael Osundwa Sakwa, who drew up the conveyance, has attributed the variance to a typing error.

He also added that it is not a requirement to present a colour picture of a client when doing conveyance, as pointed out by an NLC investigator in his report.

“The important thing is that these were people who knew each other and he agreed on his own free will to sell the land,” he said.

ANOTHER TWIST

In another twist, in mid-April 2015, Mr Thomas Murima Mutaha and Mr Peter Gaitho went to court claiming ownership of Pittaway Flats in Upper Hill.

They claimed that Mr Spencer had forged documents to the property.

The duo have disowned two share transfers from Plover’s Haunt Ltd allegedly signed by Mr Robson and his mother Betty in March 2010 in favour of the two men for a total of Sh193,740. Mr Robson’s mother died in 1993.

In court, they have also denied bringing down six flats on the plot over the Christmas period of December 2015.

They say they were framed by the lawyer, whom they claim planned the demolition together with police officers.

The lawyer’s court appearance is the latest twist to the land case. 

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