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Anti-graft agency in court battle with Moi-Biwott firm over land

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By SAM KIPLAGAT
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The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) wants the High Court to declare four parcels of prime land in Eldoret town public property and the allocation to a company associated with former President Daniel Moi and former minister Nicholas Biwott was illegal.

In submissions filed in court, EACC said the land, where the Eldoret fire station and administration police camp stand, had been set aside for public use. The four parcels of land were allocated to Lima Ltd between 1995 and 1998.

The defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case in 2006 seeking to find out whether the land was set aside for public use and whether it was validly alienated.

“EACC has proved to the required standards that the suit properties were reserved for public utilities and are in actual use of public bodies,” EACC stated in the submissions filed on November 19.

According to EACC, the parcels on Uganda Road, Oginga Oginga Street, Elgeyo Road and the road connecting Uganda Road at Zion Mall junction were reserved for a district commissioner’s office, courts and an AP camp.

Documents filed in court stated that in a meeting of the board of survey for government offices and houses held in the DC’s office on September 7, 1995 and another held on January 11, 1996, all government and municipal houses on the land were earmarked to be brought down, paving way for allocation.

And save for block 4/157 which was allocated to Lima Ltd, all other parcels were not available for alienation. The commission stated that houses were targeted not because they were old and incapable of repair but because they were sitting on prime land and needed to pave way for commercial development by private entities.

EACC said the process was in disregard of public interest. “If the buildings were old, why not repair or rebuild them?” EACC asked.

The commission said the allocation to private entitles did not make sense and the logical conclusion is that the proposed allottees were powerful people.

Memorandum and Articles of Association dated September 18, 1975 indicated that the company belonged to Mr Robert Wilson and Mr Moi and the annual returns for 1995, when the allotments were made, indicated the directors were Mr Biwott and Mr Gideon Kipsiele Moi.

Records in court show that on or about August 21, 2002, Trans National Bank advanced a loan of Sh21 million to Lima Ltd and charged the titles as security.

In October 2010, the Uasin Gishu land registrar, Mr Tom Chepkwesi, revoked the titles and Trans National Bank recorded consent in 2006 cancelling the registration of charges.

In reply, former Commissioner of Lands Wilson Gachanja, who has been named in the case, denied the land was reserved for public use. He said the land was, therefore, available for allocation to Lima. Mr Gachanja has defended the allocation, stating that he acted within his powers as he stood to gain nothing from the transaction and as such the claims of fraud are misconceived.

The commission has faulted Mr Gachanja for purporting to exercise power that he did not possess by allocating land that was not available for alienation and failing to consider public interest in the process.

The parcels in contention are Eldoret Municipality Block 4/53, 54 and 55 and block 4/129.

Justice Anthony Ombwayo will give his decision on February 6, 2019.

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