By NBM writer
Education stakeholders including teachers, pupils, parents and the neighboring community of Section 58 in Nakuru City are all smiles at the prospects that they may soon get back a piece of land valued at Sh5 million that they had lost to private developers over 20 years ago.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has moved to court to recover the land for the primary school, which was, unfortunately, grabbed with the aid of the former Commissioner of Lands.
In the recovery suit filed on March 17, 2023 against Catherine Wanjiku Mbugua as the 1st defendant, Alice Wahome Chege as the 2nd, Lawrence Maina Mwangi the 3rd and Sammy Silas Mwaita, former Commissioner of Lands, as the 4th defendant before the Nakuru Environment and Land Court, EACC seeks to have a declaration that allocation and transfer of the parcel of land, Nakuru Municipality Block 15/945 to the defendants were illegal and therefore null and void.
The Commission has also sought an order to the Nakuru Land Registrar to rectify the Land Registry by cancelling all the entries to the defendants’ purported ownership of the land and register it in favour of Nakuru Muslim Primary School who are the rightful owners. EACC also wants permanent injunction to restrain the defendants, their agents, servants, employees, assigns or any other person from charging, transferring, leasing, wasting, entering, developing, subdividing, occupying or any other manner of dealing with the land except by way of surrender.
Additionally, former Commissioner of Lands, Sammy Mwaita who is also the 4th defendant is sued for breach of public trust in facilitating the fraudulent acquisition of a public school. As the Commissioner of lands, he was the custodian of all Government land, and therefore, by purporting to allocate land belonging to a public school to a private person, he breached his duty to the public.
EACC commenced investigations into allegations of the grabbing of the school land following a complaint through its South Rift Regional Office in Nakuru. The investigations established that the Government of Kenya set aside and alienated a portion of land in Nakuru Municipality Block 15 at Section 58 in around 1998 for purposes of establishment of a public Muslim primary school.
The Nakuru Muslim Association was allocated the land measuring approx. 2.3 ha as trustees by the Municipal Council of Nakuru for the construction of a public primary school, an offer they accepted and paid the requisite fees for.
Mr. Mwaita, however, in what would later turn out to be the commencement of a fraudulent scheme, asked the Director of Survey through a letter on May 26, 1999 to survey the land as per the letter of allotment of 22.12.1998 since it had formally been accepted. Another letter of allotment with the same reference number and same date was presented to the Survey of Kenya. The said letter now indicated the land as measuring 1.7 ha and not 2.3 ha. It also had a part development plan with the same reference number but with different acreage.
As per the second letter falsely indicating 1.7 ha as the size of the land, the land was surveyed and a survey plan No; 364/32 was prepared showing the parcel as measuring 1.7 ha. The parcel is land reference number Nakuru Municipality Block 15/872.
A portion of 0.6 ha was, hence, fraudulently excised and a different survey plan F/R No: 402/69 was prepared for it and subdivided into five portions: Nakuru Municipality Block 15/941, 15/942, 15/943, 15/944 and 15/945. In relation to Land Parcel Numbers Nakuru Municipality Block 15/945, which had originally been planned, reserved and alienated for establishment of a public Muslim primary school, a Letter of Allotment was issued in the name of Catherine Wanjiku Mbugua on 4th May, 1999 and is the subject in the case filed in court.
The Commissioner of Lands, on July 25, 2001, caused to be issued a lease in Nakuru Municipality Block 15/945 measuring 0.0446 hectares in the name of Catherine Wanjiku Mbugua despite the fact that the suit property was at all material times planned and set aside for use as a public utility reserved for a public Muslim primary school.
Subsequently, Ms Mbungua entered into an agreement with 3rd defendant, Lawrence Maina Mwangi, to take over her purported interest in the fraudulently obtained Certificate of Lease in Nakuru Municipality Block 15/945 measuring 0.0446 hectares knowing very well that he had no transferable interest. Mr. Mwangi subsequently transferred the suit property to the 2nd defendant, Alice Wahome Chege.