The Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri has denied claims that it grabbed five parcels of land measuring 2,500 acres in the early 1960s from a clan in Mathari, Nyeri.
In court documents filed at the Environmental Court in Nyeri, the church says the land was acquired and registered in favour of the Diocese of Nyeri Trustees on various dates between 1903 and 1915 by the first Catholic bishop in Nyeri - Bishop Fillipo Perlo.
Bishop Perlo had come to Kenya in 1900 and settled in Nyeri. He served from 1909 to 1929.
The church argues that Bishop Perlo registered the land and was issued with the relevant official land ownership documents.
The Catholic Church through a sworn affidavit by their lawyer Rev Father David Mutahi says according to its canonical law, Bishop Perlo was required to purchase and acquire parcels of land and hold the same in trust for the Catholic Church.
Father Mutahi states that the parcels of land were later transferred to the Consolata Catholic Mission trustees - a body corporate belonging to the Catholic Church - in 1929 when Bishop Perlo resigned and a new grant was issued.
According to the Church, the disputed four parcels of land were legally acquired and are home to various activities managed by the church.
These include Christ the King Major Seminary, Sister of Tabitha convent, Mwenji Parish, St Paul’s Minor seminary, Franciscan Sisters, Holy Angel sisters St Bernadict Academy, Mwenji and Hill Farm Primary School, and St Teresa Commercial College
Over 400 members of the Mbari Ta Murathimi Clan have sued the Nyeri Archdiocese, accusing it of grabbing land measuring 2,500 acres from their late patriarch Murathimi wa Ndiuni.
The clan is accusing the Archdiocese of taking advantage of their grandparent’s illiteracy to grab their land in 1965.
They argue that the land was an ancestral plot and that the church grabbed it when titles were being issued after independence.
The case will be heard on September 15.