A farmer risks losing his one-acre land worth Sh2 million to Judiciary after a family friend whom he bailed out using the land’s title deed failed to appear in court for trial on 10 criminal charges.
Joseph Gikonyo Wanyiri, 54, attached his title deed in 2013 to bail out John Kariuki Waigwa, who faced charges of forging documents and fraudulently obtaining land registration.
Mr Waigwa, 50, last appeared in court on May 16, 2014 before resident magistrate Catherine Mburu when he was taking plea to the charges.
He later vanished with his wife and one child.
Nyeri senior resident magistrate Phillip Mutua on Tuesday warned Mr Wanyiri that his land would be auctioned if the suspect fails to appear in court by February 12, 2018.
“You stood surety for the suspect. You risk becoming a squatter if you do not produce him. We will sell your land,” Magistrate Mutua told Mr Wanyiri, who lives on the land with his family in Mweiga Kamatongu, Kieni.
Mr Wanyiri, pleaded with the court not to auction his land. He said his wife Jane Wangechi Kambu committed the title deed as surety because the suspect, Mr Waigwa, was friend of the family.
He added that his wife has been sick since then and could not appear in court to give the explanation.
The magistrate directed him to produce hospital documents to prove that his wife was sick and could not walk to the courtroom to explain the suspect’s whereabouts.
Mr Wanyiri, in a separate interview with the Nation, said that in 2015 resident magistrate Mburu had issued similar directives and he struggled to take his sick wife to the courtroom.
Documents attached in the case file indicated that the woman has been suffering from hypertension, epilepsy and asthma attacks.
“We have been looking for the suspect since then and even at his native home in Mukurweini to no avail. We assisted him on grounds that he was the breadwinner of his family and his wife had just delivered a newborn when he was arraigned in court,” said Mr Wanyiri.
“They later escaped together quietly and we have never heard of them. I have travelled to his relatives homes in Nyandarua without success,” he added.
The suspect, Mr Waigwa, was charged with falsely obtaining a parcel of land from Joyce Wambui in Mugunda/Nairutia in Kieni West Sub-County on July 1, 2013 in exchange for a truck.
The charge sheet indicated that it was later discovered that the vehicle was not a truck but a Mitsubishi station wagon belonging to East Africa Chains Limited.
The court further heard that between November 21 and December 6, 2013, Mr Waigwa, with intent to defraud, forged a land transfer form for five other parcels owned by Ms Wambui.
He committed the offence while at the Lands Office in Nyeri where he procured the parcels, claiming that Ms Wambui had transferred them to him.
Further, Mr Waigwa is accused of forging two letters of consent purporting to have been approved and signed by Ngalia Ndaya, the chairman of Kieni West Land Control Board.
He is also charged with forging another two letters of consent signed and approved by Kieni West chairlady of Land Control Board, Martha Mbula Masai.
Mr Waigwa denied all the charges before being released on bond terms of Sh2 million, for which the Wanyiri family land was used as surety.