Former ruling party, Kanu, suffered a setback on Monday after an attempt to repossess Kenyatta International Conference Centre was dismissed by a Constitutional Court.
A three-judge bench ruled that Kanu failed to support its claims in the ownership dispute. Consequently, the landmark building will remain the property of the State.
The building was taken back from the former ruling party in February 2003 by the Narc administration. The repossession was done through an “executive order” announced by the then Tourism minister Raphael Tuju, prompting Kanu to challenge the move in court.
Kanu scored first when it obtained an order from the High Court allowing them to reoccupy their KICC offices.
The order came after the Government had already told party officials to quit by 5pm on February 14, 2003 — and after a team of carpenters had already changed all the locks on Kanu office doors.
Kanu’s eviction was put on hold by Mr Justice Richard Kuloba until the case was determined. The judge then ruled that nothing should be delayed or removed.
He said he made the orders to protect and be fair to both sides and thereafter allowed the party’s lawyer, Mr Mutula Kilonzo, to file a case seeking judicial review to block the executive order.
Kanu had named President Kibaki, the then Justice minister Kiraitu Murungi, Attorney-General Amos Wako, the Commissioner of Lands and the Registrar of Titles and Mr Tuju in the suit as respondents.
On Monday however, Mr Justice Joseph Nyamu, Benjamin Kubo and George Dulu ruled that suit was fatal as the President was immune to judicial review.
The judges further said that Kanu erred by going to court in itself, rather than through its officials such as the chairman, secretary or treasurer.
KICC was put up between 1966 and 1973. All available evidence points to the fact that the KICC was built solely with government funding.
The property was also maintained and managed by the Government until 1989 when it was transferred to Kanu in unclear circumstances. Mr Tuju was in court to celebrate the ruling.