Coffee Board of Kenya has won back a 20-acre parcel of land in Nairobi’s Industrial Area after a judge ruled that a title deed held by a private developer was fraudulently acquired three decades ago.
Justice Lucy Mbugua of the Environment and Land court found that the board acquired the parcel in 1986 and there was no evidence that its allotment letter was cancelled.
The court heard that a company known as Sotua Development Company claimed that it acquired the land in July 1991.
Records filed in court, however, showed that the company was incorporated in September 2009 and it was not possible for it to acquire the land before incorporation.
“It is hereby declared that the plaintiff (Coffee Board) is the rightful owner of the land,” the judge said.
“Any title held by the 1st defendant purporting to be in respect of the suit land is hereby declared as illegal and the same is to be cancelled in the register.”
Sotua did not defend the case but during the hearing, Kensalt joined the dispute saying it later purchased the land from Sotua in 2010. Kensalt later withdrew from the case.
Coffee Board through lawyer David Chege told the court that the title deed held by Sotua was illegal and should be recalled by the Chief Registrar of Titles.
The court said there was evidence on the allotment to the Coffee Board and the acquisition of the land by another party was null and void.
In 2018, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) sought to compulsorily acquire the land but put on hold the plans after it was informed of the court case and that the police and the National Land Commission (NLC) was investigating the fraud. The acquisition process was put on hold, awaiting the outcome of the case.
The judge said the board exhibited a letter of allotment dated October 10, 1986 and there is no evidence that it was cancelled. She said once an allotment letter is issued and the beneficiary meets the conditions, the land is no longer available, unless it is cancelled.