The Environment and Land Court has ordered tycoon Mike Maina to surrender a prime piece of land located in Murang’a town to the Kenya Prisons Service.
The court declared his title deed null and void and issued permanent orders blocking him from interfering with the parcel of land.
Justice Grace Kemei issued the orders on Monday in a petition filed by the tycoon in 2017 seeking orders to restrain the Kenya Prisons Service from encroaching on his land. This was after the department announced plans to build a juvenile prison.
The petitioner had told the court that he acquired the land legally from Stanley Njuguna Maina and followed due process to acquire a title deed.
He had pleaded with the court to issue orders stopping the Kenya Prisons Service, the Attorney-General and Murang’a County government from encroaching on the land.
But the judge faulted the tycoon, saying the AG’s office and the Commissioner of Prisons gave satisfactory evidence showing that the land belonged to the Kenya Prisons Service and had been reserved for public use.
The court said the petitioner should have done due diligence to establish these facts.
“According to evidence adduced in this court, the land, Murang’a Municipality Block 2 525 measuring 2.5 acres, was alienated for public use to develop a juvenile department in 1966 through a Gazette notice. The petitioner, although he bought the land from Stanley Njuguna Maina -- who was purportedly issued with the ownership documents -- ought to have known that the land which he bought was government land reserved for public use.
“The court can only protect land owned lawfully and the court finds that the petitioner has no rights over the land in the suit. The title contains an illegality and has been cancelled since it is impeachable under the Lands Act,” Justice Kemei ruled.
She observed that although the defunct municipality gave consent in the sale of the land, a move that saw the petitioner pay the stamp duty, both the Commissioner of Lands and the municipality had no powers to allocate land reserved for public purposes.
The land fell into the hands of the private developer when the juvenile department was relocated to another area in Murang’a town.
Court records show that the petitioner got the land after approval by the defunct municipality and the then district development committee. He got the title deed in 1997.
After lodging a complaint in court, he successfully obtained orders stopping Murang’a GK Prison from cultivating maize it had been growing on the disputed land.
Property owners who have developed residential plots around the Prisons have, from time to time, been receiving letters to vacate the land.
The tycoon is also embroiled in ownership battles with the Nairobi City County.