24 April 2018

Kenya: Family's Agony Despite Ruling on Sh1 Billion Land

Fourteen years after a court issued judgment on ownership of a land in Kwale, a family that owns a large chunk of the Wasini Island has been locked out of the property by cartels.

Saggaf family, who are landless despite owning 289 acres of the island, say attempts to implement the court's judgment and conduct a survey on the property worth Sh1.3 billion have been futile.

"The most painful part is that when we move in with surveyors to survey, we are encountering hostility from the encroachers, and we are also being threatened," said Mr Alawy Abzain, the family's spokesman.

COURT BATTLE

The land originally known as plot number W33/Kwale/Wasini was owned by the plaintiff, Saggaf Alawys now aged (99 years old) and was inherited by his children, Mr Hassan Nassir, Mr Mohamed Nassir and Mr Ahmed Nassir.

However, a group of people claimed ownership of the same property, and the dispute ended in the High Court in Mombasa. All the parties were heard and a judgment was entered in favour of the plaintiff in 1995.

According to court documents, the then recorder of titles in Kwale adjudicated claim number V 590/26 in respect of the same title and entered a judgment in favour of the Saggaf family on May 2, 1969.

The documents seen by Nation indicate that sometimes in 1979, the Land Adjudication Officer in Kwale purported to adjudicate over the same plot resulting in the award of titles to people who did not deserve them. The defendants in the 1981 suit are Mr Mohamed Masoud and Mr Hamadi Khalifan, who were also claiming the ownership of the land.

While delivering his judgment dated July 21, 1995, Justice Mbogholi Msagha said: "The purported adjudication thereof by the Land Adjudication Officer, Kwale District, is null and void and that the judgment of the recorder of titles referred is given effect and the appropriate titles be issued under the Provisions of the Land Titles Acts."

ERROR

The judge further ordered that the details on the land be corrected and appropriate titles be issued to reflect the names of Mr Hassan, Mr Mohamed and Mr Ahmed as the registered proprietors.

In entering the judgment, the court noted that the Ministry of Land had conceded liability and confirmed that the adjudication of the land by the Adjudication Officer in Kwale was erroneous.

The effect of the judgment was that any titles issued earlier were cancelled and notice of the cancellation duly given in Kenyan Gazette dated April 11, 1997.

The court revoked earlier adjudication conducted by the then recorder of titles that had conducted subdivision and awarded the defendants part of the land. The family now says despite the court judgment, the recorder of titles has failed to correct the register and issue appropriate titles. The family is calling on Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Koroney to help them get their titles deeds.

But Kwale County Commissioner Karuku Ngumo said the family has not sought his assistance in relation to the matter.

Mr Ali Abdallah, a squatter and a defendant in the suit, confirmed to Nation that they are aware of the court judgment but said they had been allocated the land by the national government in 1970. "We know the land belongs to Saggaf family but we were given the land by the government. We have nowhere to go," he said. He said they need government's protection.

Efforts to reach county Land executive Saumu Beja over the matter were futile.

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