Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua has opened a fight with a Ministry of Lands official over ownership of a piece of land in Nairobi valued at Sh1.5 billion.
Mr Gachagua, who is also the United Democratic Alliance deputy presidential candidate, and his company, Wamunyoro Investments Limited, filed an urgent suit at the Environment and Lands Court seeking to stop the official from taking over the five-acre land in Embakasi. Through lawyer Philip Nyachoti, the MP accused the Director of Physical Planning at the Ministry of Lands John Michael Ohas of illegally transferring the land’s title to Columbus 2000 Limited and denying him the rights despite being the bonafide owner.
“Mr Ohas took advantage of his position to transfer the land’s title to Columbus 2000 Limited where he is the director and deliberately tampered with the records whereby any official search indicates that Gachagua and his company are not the owners,” said Nyachoti.
Mr Nyachoti asked the court to issue an order stopping Ohas, Columbus 2000 Ltd, and the Chief Lands Registrar from selling, sub-dividing, or interfering with the title of the disputed land pending determination of the suit. According to the lawyer, the dispute relating to the land’s ownership was determined by the National Lands Commission (NLC) in 2016 when they upheld that Gachagua and his company legally acquired the land in 2012 from the original owners.
Nyachoti argued that despite the findings by NLC, Mr Ohas and his company have refused to hand back the land to the MP after illegally and fraudulently obtaining a second title.
“The property is currently valued at Sh1.5 billion and was used by Mr Gachagua, through his company Wamunyoro Investments Ltd, as security to obtain a loan of Sh200 million from Equity Bank. Refusing to register him as the land’s owner is causing him losses,” said Nyachoti.
Mr Nyachoti accused the Ministry of Lands official of engaging in a conflict of interest by fraudulently transferring Gachagua’s land to himself and cleaning all the records to show the MP does not own the land. Gachagua, in his affidavit, swore that he acquired the land in 2012 after purchasing it from Karandi Farm Limited and Peter Mbugua at a cost of Sh24 million and had the title registered in his company’s name. The MP stated that he then assumed possession and used the title as security to acquire the Sh200 million loan, but was surprised in 2016 when Mr Ohas filed a complaint at NLC claiming that he owned the land.
“He claimed that he acquired the land in 1994 but after careful analysis, the commission dismissed his claims and found that my title was legally acquired. Even after the commission dismissed his claims to the land, Ohas has never taken any steps to appeal the decision,” said Gachagua. Gachagua stated that after the NLC’s decision in 2016, he took possession of the land until December 2019 when the Ministry of Lands official allegedly interfered with the records and removed his name as the owner.
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