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President hands out 12,000 deeds despite court order

Sunday October 16 2005

President Kibaki yesterday gave out 12,000 land titles in Nakuru amid controversy on whether or not he had ignored a court order stopping the issuance of the documents.

State House maintained that the titles for the Ogieks were processed long before the court order.

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West Ham striker Andriy Yarmolenko celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on September 16, 2018. PHOTO | PAUL ELLIS |

The President who handed over few deeds to the beneficiaries before the exercise was marred by a heavy downpour at about midday, said the issuance was not to solicit favours. 

He said it is an inalienable right for all Kenyans who own property to be issued with titles and criticised representations to the contrary as cheap propaganda. 

The President was speaking at Olenguruone divisional headquarters in Nakuru district where 12,000 land title deeds were issued to members of the Ogiek community.

"It is unfortunate that such a well-intentioned action meant to benefit the people had been politicised," he added.

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The President pointed out that the issuance of the titles was not connected to the ongoing court cases adding it was cheap propaganda and an act of mischief to try to deny the people these important documents. 

"The government is simply fulfilling a pledge made to the Ogiek community 13 years ago and it is insincere to politicise the matter," he said.

President Kibaki said the government would continue to issue title deeds to land owners across the country to enable them to develop their farms confidently.

The President assured the recipients that the exercise would not be hampered by few individuals who were dissatisfied with the way it was conducted.

He said it was their right to get the title deeds and that they should not be worried about the legal processes that had been introduced.

"Those who have disputes with the process should seek legal redress against the individuals and not the exercise," he said. 

On Thursday, a Nakuru High Court Judge issued an order stopping the issuance of the title deeds to the Ogiek community.

The barring orders were issued against the commissioner of lands, the chief lands registrar, the principal registrar of titles and the Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner.

But a State House official argued that no law would be breached because the court order was directed at the Ogiek community, who were to receive the deeds and not the President.

Lawyers were divided on whether the president was in breach of the law.

But Kabete MP Mr Paul Muite, while supporting the President's decision to issue the title deeds argued that although there was need for the three arms of government to respect their constitutional boundaries, orders given by the courts in bad faith should not be obeyed.

Mr Muite, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on justice and legal affairs, said the judiciary would be breaking the law to step on the boundaries of the other arms of government.

It was in bad faith, he said, for the judiciary to give an injunction at the eleventh hour without allowing the Executive to state its case.

But International Commission of Jurists chairman Otiende Amollo said that the President would be setting a bad precedent to give out the titles if a court had issued an injunction.

"If it is indeed true that a court issued an injunction, it will be contempt of court for the President to go ahead and give out the titles," he added.

The Law Society of Kenya has also in past condemned those defying court orders arguing doing so was a recipe for chaos.

By ignoring a court order, LSK argued, the government showed it had no respect for the rule of law.

Chief Justice Evan Gicheru is on record accusing the executive and the legislature of encroaching on the Judiciary.

In June, the judiciary issued a stern warning to leaders who defy court orders and asked them to obey the orders or face three years in jail.

The judges said is a statement then, "In a working democracy and as a matter of civility, court orders must be obeyed by all if we are to abide by the rule of law."

They warned, "Let those concerned be warned that under Section 121 (1) of the Penal Code, disobeying a court order is punishable with imprisonment of three years which the court will enforce without fear or favour."

Last month, Mr Justice Gicheru repeated the warning asking ministers and members of Parliament to stop meddling with the judiciary.

Mr Justice Gicheru warned ministers could be found guilty of contempt of court, in their official and personal capacities.

Mr Kimunya and his information counterpart, Raphael Tuju have in the past been accused of disobeying court orders.

Mr Kimunya was accused by MPs who had sought to block the eviction of people in the Mau forest of defying a court order.

He had announced that the cabinet had endorsed the evictions to stop the destruction of forests and that the court order was not directed at the cabinet but to Narok county council, in whose jurisdiction the land is.

On his part, Mr Tuju was accused of forcefully taking over Kenyatta International Conference Centre in the face of a pending ownership dispute case.

Yesterday, one of the applicants in the case, the Ogiek Welfare Council, said they will still pursue the matter in court after obtaining the samples of the titles.

The President on his way back to Nakuru State House he addressed crowds at Kerenget, Elburgon and Njoro.

Additional reporting by Tony Kago

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