14 December 2012

Kenya: Court Calls Ruto Over IDP Land Grab Row

ELDORET North MP William Ruto has been ordered to appear in court in a case where he has been accused of grabbing an IDP's land in Uasin Gishu District. High Court judge Rose Ougo stated that all the defendants in the case should appear in court on February 4 and 5 next year.

Ruto's witness was due to testify yesterday but lawyer Katwa Kigen told the court that he was unable to proceed because Hosea Ruto was admitted and is on bed rest. Katwa undertook to present the medical reports at the next hearing date.

Adrian Muteshi, the IDP who lost his land, said through his lawyer that he was ready to proceed and opposed adjournment. "He is not the only witness. If one defendant is unable to attend court, the other defendants should have come today," he said.

However Katwa said he had only prepared for one witness and the issue of sickness could not be predicted. In March this year, Ruto agreed to surrender the disputed property but later declined after Muteshi demanded compensation.

Justice Ougo was told that Ruto and Muteshi failed to agree on compensation, costs of the suit and issues surrounding the title deed. This prompted the judge to issue hearing dates for the case to be determined.

Muteshi filed the suit in 2010, two years after he fled from the post-election violence in Rift Valley. He said he had owned the land since 1989 having acquired it from a white settler.

He claimed he returned to the farm after the violence but found that Ruto had taken over the property and his workers had been evicted. Ruto denied that he grabbed the land and claims he bought it in September 2008 from Dorothy Jemutai Yator of ID No 12830496 in a transaction conducted by Elizabeth C. Rotich Advocates of Eldoret.

"I did due diligence before the acquisition. All the records indicated that the land belonged to the person in question and I had no reason to doubt the documents because they were from the Ministry of Lands," he said.

Ruto then decided to give up the farm after the Lands ministry disowned the title deed as fraudulent in March 2011. According to the ministry, the files of plot Uasin Gishu/Tapsaagoi/33 contain the background information of how the land was allocated to Adrian Gilbert Muteshi but do not refer to Dorothy Jemutai Yator.

The ministry further said the transfer letter from the Land district registry, which was used as authority to issue a title to Yator, did not originate from the Director of Land Adjudication and Settlement office. "It is then that I advised my lawyers to surrender the land back to Muteshi and we pursue Dorothy instead," said Ruto.

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