5 February 2013

Kenya: Ruto's Title for Farm Was Forged - Official

THE land title for a farm belonging to an IDP in Rift Valley was forged before it was sold to former Eldoret North MP William Ruto. Yesterday a Lands ministry official told a Nairobi court that the title was "fake".

Fraudsters apparently hijacked the identity of Dorothy Jemutai Yator and portrayed her as the owner of the land before selling it to Ruto.

According to documents produced before Justice Rose Ougo, Yator would have been six years old when the title was allegedly issued to her by the Lands registry.

The photo attached to the land transaction documents also did not resemble Yator who appeared in court for the first time yesterday. Principal Land Administration Officer Kiogora Mburugu said Yator was a victim of "misrepresentation and forgery."

Mburugu said the ministry was still "investigating" the fraud. No-one at the Lands Ministry has been charged with any offense or disciplined to date. Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta's running mate in the presidential election, bought the 86 acre farm in Turbo, Uasin Gishu in September 2008.

However Adrian Gilbert Muteshi then filed a case claiming that he had owned the farm since 1968. Last year Ruto held a press conference where he said the court case was part of a "grand scheme" to link him land grabbing after the post-election violence. Later he agreed to return the farm to Muteshi but the agreement foundered after the IDP demanded compensation as well.

Yesterday the former MP was in court but opted not to testify. He had previously stated that he had done due diligence and had no reason to doubt the validity of the land title.

Hosea Ruto, a friend of William Ruto, yesterday told court that the ex-MP dealt with with two middle men who worked at the Uasin Gishu district settlement office and who were handling the transaction on behalf of Yator.

Hosea said he personally went to inquire about the ownership of the land on behalf of the then MP. He said he went to the Uasin Gishu district settlement office where he met Peter Kosgei and Bethuel Kipsang who showed him the title deed and took him on a tour of the land.

The two men informed him that the land belonged to Yator who was '"part of them" and that Yator was married to a Mr Kiptugen who works with the Lands ministry.

Hosea then introduced the two men to Ruto who paid for the farm in several installments with the final payment of Sh600,000 being handed over by Hosea himself. Hosea said he never heard Muteshi's name during the transaction.

Muteshi filed his case in 2010 accusing Ruto of grabbing his 100 acre farm in Turbo, Uasin Gishu District. He said he farmed the land until 1992 when his business was temporarily interrupted by tribal clashes. He resumed farming after the violence but had to abandon the farm again following the chaos after the disputed 2007 election.

He was informed that Ruto had taken over the land when he returned to his farm after the turmoil. Muteshi said his six workers were evicted from the farm.

He claimed he acquired the land in the Kaptabei Scheme in the 1960s from Mr Edmund who was the white settler owner. Muteshi said that he applied to the then Lands minister, the late Jackson Harvester Angaine, for approval to buy the land in May 1968, .

The application was approved on October 3, 1968, after paying the required amount plus development cash, Muteshi said. He signed a sale and loan agreement with the Settlement Fund Trustees at the same time and was expected to repay the loan over 30 years. However he only acquired a land title in 1989.

"Muteshi must be honest. Allegations that he was at the farm in 2008 is actually a fraud. I've been the area MP for 15 years and nobody lived on that farm. The last time somebody was seen on the farm was in 1992. Muteshi was not living in the farm in 2008," Ruto told a press conference last year.

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