Kenya: Kabogo Bid to Reclaim City Land Hits a Snag

11 December 2019

Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo's bid to retain ownership of a seven-acre parcel of land in Nairobi's Westlands flopped yesterday when an appellate court dismissed his case.

The court instead upheld a lower court's decision directing him to pay the owner of the land Sh100 million for trespass.

Three Court of Appeal judges described the takeover of the land on Church Road as shameless "outright typical Kenyan-style land grabbing".

Justices William Ouko, Fatuma Sichale and Kantai ole Sankale said Mr Kabogo, through his company Caroget Investments Ltd, together with officials from the Ministry of Lands and those from the defunct city council, colluded to alienate the private land in question.

The court observed that the "lightning speed at which the entire transaction was executed, from the moment the property was transferred to Caroget, to the point it was to be sold to White Horse Investment Limited, all within four months, "smacked of fraud, bad faith and deceit."

The property, which in 2013 was valued at Sh1.8 billion as per a valuation report filed in court, belongs to Nayan Patel, through Aster Holdings Ltd.

Environment and Lands Court Judge Elijah Obaga had quashed the transfer of the land to Mr Kabogo, stating that it had fraudulently been registered in the name of Caroget Investments Ltd.

But Mr Kabogo moved to the Court of Appeal seeking to quash Justice Obaga's decision, insisting he had applied to the defunct Nairobi City Council in 2007 and was duly allocated the land for a 99-year lease.

Mr Kabogo said he attempted to sell the property to White Horse Investments Limited for Sh200 million but failed when he was told that its title was irregularly obtained.

But Justice Obaga said the council had actively participated in the fraud, leading to the registration of Caroget as the owner of the property.

Caroget then invaded the property and occupied it for more than 10 years.

Mr Patel, through lawyer Cohen Amanya, said he had a certificate of title, which in law was conclusive evidence of its proprietorship.

"The invasion was unlawful and the taking of possession of a privately owned property amounted to trespass. The 1st respondent's (Aster) efforts to get assistance from the police was futile, compelling it to institute an action for trespass," the judges ruled, adding that the Sh100 million damages slapped on Mr Kabogo's company was justified.

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