Kenya: Club Sidai Oleng Caught in Middle of Land Dispute

26 October 2020

On September 24, 2012, Peter Kamau Ruhang'i entered into a lease agreement with John Ngugi on a piece of land situated along Kiambu Road.

Under the agreement, Mr Ruhang'i, the registered proprietor of the land, agreed to grant a lease to Mr Ngugi of an undeveloped portion of the land measuring 80 by 110 feet.

The lease was to commence on November 1, 2012 and last for five years and two months at a cost of Sh100,000 per month.

In the lease agreement, Mr Ruhang'i agreed to Mr Ngugi erecting structures on the land at his cost to facilitate the operation of his lawful business.

The agreement thereafter gave birth to Club Sidai Oleng, a popular entertainment joint along Kiambu road owned by Mr Ngugi.

After the expiry of the first lease agreement, the two parties on February 17, 2018 renewed the lease under different terms.

Things went on well until sometime later in 2018 when the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) came on site and placed a rod edge marker post behind Mr Ngugi's business premises. KeNHA is in the process of embarking on the construction of the 25 kilometre Muthaiga-Kiambu-Ndumberi (B32) road.

Alarmed by the turn of events, Mr Ngugi in May 2019 wrote to KeNHA requesting to be furnished with information regarding ownership of the piece of land.

KeNHA confirmed the land belongs to the agency, a thing that made the businessman move to Thika Environment Court in July 2020.

In the suit, the businessman has sued KeNHA, the National Land Commission, Mr Ruhang'i, Attorney General, Chief Land Registrar, Lands Cabinet secretary, director of survey and director of Ethics and Anti-Corruption commission.

Road reserve

According to documents filed in court, the businessman on May 21, 2019, wrote to KeNHA Director General Peter Mundinia requesting to know about the status of land.

On May 27,2019,Mr Mundinia replied to his letter, informing him that LR NO.28177 is a road reserve and a public land and therefore not available for any other use.

Mr Ngugi in the suit documents argues that the property was never available for lease from the onset since it was a road reserve and has never been converted for private use.

But in a replying affidavit, Mr Ruhang'i terms allegation by his tenant that the land is on a road reserve as false, saying the land belongs to him.

"KeNHA has never sued me or demanded my vacation of the said land since I am the bonafide owner," says Mr Ruhang'i.

Mr Ngugi wants that in the event the court finds that the land does not belong to Mr Ruhang'i, the court declares the leases executed between them null and void.

"That in the event that the grant is cancelled, Mr Ruhang'i be ordered to reimburse the plaintiff all the amounts paid in rent commencing the year 2012 to date," reads Mr Ngugi pleadings in court.

However, Mr Ruhang'i argues that the allegations in the said KeNHA letter are mischievous and falsified based on the fact that the section of Old Kiambu Road (that is adjacent to LR No 28177) was aligned and de-gazetted vide a government notice dated February 20, 1950, which is available in the national government's archives.

"Upon the said realignment and degazettement, the new Kiambu road was mapped out. Thereafter the whole land of LR No 28177 was returned to the government and thereafter allocated to me," he says.

The landlord maintains that the allotment of the land to him was done upon issuance of all necessary approvals from the Ministry of Public Works. Last week, a Kiambu court stopped the auctioning or demolishing of any of the club's properties until a case filed by a supplier is heard and determined.

The order was issued after Mr Duncan Kahiro moved to court seeking to have a directive barring auctioning or demolishing of the club, saying he stands to lose having been a supplier.

Kiambu Senior Resident Magistrate W. Rading barred Mr Ruhang'i, his agents or any one acting on his behalf from executing, selling by way of auction, charging, levying distress and evicting Mr Ngugi and his club until the case is heard and determined.

In April 2019, Environment and Land Court judge Loice Komingoi ruled that Mr Ruhang'i fraudulently obtained another piece of land that he had been tussling over with the Kenya Forest Service.

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