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Senior Lands officers accused of issuing fake title deeds in Gilgil

Saturday November 30 2019
By JOSEPH OPENDA

The Ministry of Lands has been implicated in a mega scandal that involve issuing of more than 3,000 fake title deeds to individuals for lparcels in Ol Jorai farm.

Officials at the Lands office in Nakuru are accused of overseeing fraudulent land transactions that led to the illegal subdivision of the 8,000 acres of land in Gilgil.

The question of how a land was acquired, subdivided and title deeds issued without the original title being surrendered was the subject of determination in the more than a decade-long court dispute pitying two groups - members of the Ol Jorai community and the Solai Royubei land buying company.

The Lands court in Nakuru on Wednesday raised an alarm over the conduct of the some of the officers at the Lands office which led to the unnecessary litigations and now impending eviction of more than 6,000 people.

In his judgement, Justice Sila Munyao regretted that illegalities were happening at the Lands office under the watch of the senior officials who have been entrusted by the public to keep straight records.

Justice Munyao wondered how the titles of the land were prepared and maps purporting to authenticate the documents were drawn, terming it a major public scandal.

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“This country should be worried that people can actually proceed to purport to subdivide other people’s land, issue titles and purport to transfer them to other people with the backing of senior officials,” he said.

He added: “I am personally very afraid and very worried at the scandal that has been revealed to me in this case.”

The extent of the rot came out in the hearing of a case where Peter Ndungunya Ole Osono, on behalf of the community, sued the Solai Royubei company for trying to grab their land.

He filed the case in 2007 accusing the Agricultural Development Corporation of fraudulently transferring their land to Solai Royubei farm company.

Mr Ole Osono had told the court that members of Ol Jorai community were the legal owners of the land and were settled by the government in 1997. He said they were allowed to subdivide it after paying Sh 0 million and were issued with title deeds.

He sought orders declaring them the legal owners of the land through adverse possession and bar the Solai Royubei farm from interfering with their occupation.

The company, however, in its counter claim laid claim of the land and produced evidences proving their purchase of the land from the ADC in 1995 at a cost of Sh24 million.

The firm accused the Ol Jorai community members of trespassing and fraudulently trying to grab their land.

The firm argued that members of the Ol Jorai community are squatters, who invaded the land in 1992 and purported to have the authority to subdivide the land.

The judge in his ruling, pointed out instances where lands officials while testifying in defense of the Ol Jorai community members exposed their laxity and misconducts.

For instance, he faulted a letter dated May 25,  2016 by one Consolata Namai on behalf of the Director of Surveys, purporting to forward fake RIMS and an area list to the district lands registrar for issuance of titles without first authenticating where exactly the said sub plots had come from.

He further singled out another letter by one S.N Mwenda on behalf of the lands boss directing the district lands registrar to issue title deeds while knowing that the mother title had not been surrendered and was still under the custody of the court.

“I am actually disturbed by the evidences of the officers which reveal the laxity and don’t-care attitude that lands officials take on serious issues of land documentation and ownership,” said judge.

The court in its judgement cancelled all the 3,320 title deeds and declared that the land belonged to Royubei company and that it has not been subdivided.

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