Judge halts issuing of land letters to squatters in Taveta
Posted Sunday, July 15 2012 at 17:38
Hopes of squatters getting land in Taveta were dashed on Thursday last week after the High Court halted issuance of 5,525 letters of offer.
Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi suspended any alienation, transfer, disposal or attachment of the property pending the hearing and determination of an application filed on Tuesday last week.
She also suspended the processing of letters of allotment, issuance of title deeds or accepting of money from people issued or in the process of being issued with letters of offer in respect to Taveta Phase 1 Settlement Scheme or any other scheme.
At the same time, the judge granted lawyer Allen Gichuhi’s request and issued summons to a Cabinet minister and two other senior government officers to appear in court on July 27 to explain why they should not be jailed for contempt of court.
The judge issued orders in favour of Basil Criticos, a fortnight after Gender Minister Naomi Shaban, Taveta District Commissioner Hirbae Nkaduda and District Land Adjudication Officer Maina Ngugi issued copies of letters of offer to squatters.
This was despite an earlier order restraining them from surveying, demarcating and allocating the land until a petition filed in court by some 3,000 squatters was heard and determined.
Justice Ngugi said the officers were in contempt of court for going ahead with allotment while the matter was pending in court.
The squatters petitioned the subdivision and criteria used to allocate the 15,000 acres.
The land was bought by the government in 2007 for squatter settlement from the National Bank of Kenya at Sh55 million after Mr Criticos, the previous owner, defaulted a Sh20million loan.
Two weeks ago, the minister and the two officers at Taveta DC’s podium issued allotment letters but warned the beneficiaries that they stood to lose the parcels if the failed to pay for them within three months.
The letters purported to be signed by the Director of Settlement were photocopied and originals retained by the Lands office.
But the court issued fresh orders after nullifying the process that was kicked off by Dr Shabaan, who is also area MP.
Earlier, Justice Isaac Lenaola had restrained the Minister for Agriculture, Director of Settlement, Settlement Fund Trustee, Provincial Administration and any other government officials from dealing in the land until a pending petition was heard and determined.
Yesterday, the petioners asked for the court to be furnished with the lists of beneficiaries and those of the allocation committee. They are accusing the minister for leading government officers in disobeying the law.
The case will be heard on November 21.