Farmers could lose land now owned by State officers - Daily Nation

Farmers could lose land now owned by public officers

Sunday June 24 2018

land

A past demonstration by a section of Jumaa Farmers Company members outside Ampiva Estate in Bahati, Nakuru County, after they were evicted from the land by police. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MUCHEMI WACHIRA
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A group of farmers who have been waiting to share prime agricultural land they bought in Nakuru County more than 40 years ago may never live to see its benefits.

The 560 acres, Sunday Nation established, was subdivided last year and dished or sold out to well-connected persons including senior civil servants, a local politician and a prominent lawyer.

Government surveyors moved in to subdivide the disputed land after the Lands board in Bahati Sub-County gave out the consent to have it partitioned for sale following a successful application by its legal owner, Francis Kamau.

Kamau is a son of a former official of Jumaa Farmers Company Limited, the late Njuguna Mwaura who was awarded the property through adverse possession.

Mwaura had sought orders for the adverse possession at the High Court in Nairobi without the knowledge of other members of the company, which he served as a director and treasurer.

SUBDIVISION

And with no one to oppose his application, the orders were granted by Justice Andrew Hayanga back in 2001.

Attempts to appeal against the ruling have proved futile.

According to Bahati Sub-County commissioner Mutua Kisilu, Kamau successfully applied to the Lands Control Board to have the land subdivided in October last year.

“Kamau came to us and said he wanted to have the land subdivided and he got the consent from the Lands board,” Mr Kisilu, who chairs the sub-county land control board, said in a telephone interview.

He, however, denied being a beneficiary of the subdivided land.

The latest map from the Survey department confirms this.

SQUATTERS

About 50 acres, the administrator claimed, was set aside for a group of squatters who had lived on the farm before the original owner, Ampiva Estate, sold the land to Jumaa Farmers.

But as Sunday Nation established, the 50-acre portion said to have been set aside for the squatters has been portioned into 50 by 100 plots, which are being sold at Sh300,000 each.

Mr Kisilu also denied having any knowledge about a Member of Parliament who is accused of being among the beneficiaries of the land.

“What I know is that he (the MP) has leased part of the land where he’s growing wheat and oats,” he said.

The MP is said to have been allocated 50 acres. Others who have benefited from the land include a senior official at the Lands office in Nakuru, a government surveyor and a senior police officer.

A lawyer based in the county is also a beneficiary.

LOCATION

Members of Jumaa Farmers have lodged a case at the Court of Appeal with a view to recovering the land.

They accuse Mr Kisilu of meddling in the matter, saying the property is in Subukia Sub-County not Bahati.

But Mr Kisilu insists that the land, which is located about 500 metres from Bahati Police Station is within his sub-county.

In 2005, the government had lodged a caveat to stop Mwaura from selling the land pending the resolution of the dispute between different parties claiming ownership of the property.

Jumaa Farmers Company Limited had bought 75 per cent of the entire land from Ampiva Estate Limited (1970) - a German company - after paying Sh500,000 on October, 22, 1977.

Endao Company Limited also claims to have bought the same land but it has failed to produce documents in court to prove the claim.

COURT CASE

The caveat was later withdrawn and in 2015, Mwaura’s widow Nyambura, now deceased, and her son Kamau, were granted letters of administration for the estate as beneficiaries of the property by the High Court following the death of the family patriarch in 2006.

The file containing details on the controversial land went missing during the same period.

Members of Jumaa Farmers had in 2008 occupied the farm and started cultivating it but Nyambura and her son moved to the High Court.

A ruling delivered by Justice J. Mulwa in September last year, declining to set aside Justice Hayanga’s ruling, seems to have sealed the fate of Jumaa Farmers as it paved the way for Kamau to secure the Land Control Board’s consent to subdivide the land.