Court orders Deputy President Ruto to pay Sh5m for trespass

Friday June 28 2013

Lawyer Anthony Lubulellah (left) and Adrian Muteshi (right) at the High Court in Nairobi on Tuesday February 19, 2013. Deputy President William Ruto has been ordered to pay five million shillings to Mr Muteshi for trespassing on his 100-acre farm in Uasin Gishu County June 28, 2013. FILE

Lawyer Anthony Lubulellah (left) and Adrian Muteshi (right) at the High Court in Nairobi on Tuesday February 19, 2013. Deputy President William Ruto has been ordered to pay five million shillings to Mr Muteshi for trespassing on his 100-acre farm in Uasin Gishu County June 28, 2013. FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PAUL JUMA

Deputy President William Ruto has been ordered to pay five million shillings to a farmer for trespassing on his 100-acre farm in Uasin Gishu County.

Lady Justice Rose Ougo ruled Friday that Mr Muteshi had proved that the property was legally his and that he was deprived of it.

Mr Ruto stated that he was an unsuspecting buyer who heard that some land was being sold and conducted due diligence before purchasing it from people and he had all the reasons to believe were the owners of the property.

Last year, he had offered to vacate the land in a proposed out-of-court settlement. The deal collapsed when Mr Muteshi demanded additional compensation and payment of the cost of his suit.

The matter went to trial, and Mr Ruto chose not to give oral evidence in court. However, he sent his fiend who was involved in the land sale on his behalf, an Uasin Gishu businessman known as Hosea Ruto.

Mr Muteshi also sued the Attorney-General, Dorothy Yator, who was said to have sold the land to Mr Ruto and the surveyor who sub-divided the land Patrick Opiyo.

Reacting after the judgement, Mr Muteshi said that he was not satisfied with the Sh5 million compensation.

"It’s not a lot of money,” he said.                                    

“If you harvest maize for five years from somebody’s land, obviously there is much more value to that.”

Forged signatures

He said that he accepted the judge’s decision and was glad that the land had been reverted to him.

Lady Justice Ougo cleared Ms Yator, noting that she was consistent in her evidence that she has never had any dealings with the Deputy President and that her signatures were forged to sell the land to him.

The judge said that evidence showed that Mr Muteshi owned the land and he has its title deed to date.

Lady Justice Ougo concluded that the land was irregularly and fraudulently subdivided and sold to Mr Ruto. She did not hold the Deputy President liable in the irregular dealings with the land.

“I can only attribute the irregular acts to Hosea Ruto (Mr Ruto’s witness) as Hon Ruto chose not to testify,” the judge said.

Mr Ruto was the only witness that the Deputy President presented to court in his defence. The Deputy President chose not to testify.

The judgement ends a dispute that started in 2010 when Mr Muteshi sued Mr Ruto and others.

Mr Muteshi, who said he fled the land in 2008 during the post-election violence, had accused Mr Ruto of grabbing his farm.

In final submissions presented in court in May, Mr Muteshi accused Mr Ruto of failing to present himself for questioning and three witnesses who could have helped the court with important evidence.

The Deputy President maintained he was innocent and denied any role in the fraudulent transfer of Mr Muteshi’s land to Dorothy Yator before it was sold to him.

His chief defence witness Hosea Ruto had indicated that he facilitated a meeting attended by Mr Ruto and two men, Peter Kosgei and Bethwell Kipsang.

The three struck a deal to sell the land to Mr Ruto during the meeting that took place at his office when he was Agriculture minister, the witness said.

Mr Ruto's lawyer Katwa Kigen submitted that the Deputy President acted in good faith and exercised due diligence when acquiring the property.

“He was not party to any impropriety that may have been perpetrated,” Mr Kigen told the court.