Economy

Court blocks Naivasha land probe

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Summary

  • The High Court has barred Nakuru County and the National Land Commission from investigating ownership documents for private land in Naivasha.
  • Justice John Mutungi issued the orders after activist Njoroge challenged Nakuru’s authority to investigate private property, while arguing that the NLC’s mandate to probe historical land injustices ended in 2017.

The High Court has barred Nakuru County and the National Land Commission from investigating ownership documents for private land in Naivasha.

Justice John Mutungi issued the orders after activist Njoroge challenged Nakuru’s authority to investigate private property, while arguing that the NLC’s mandate to probe historical land injustices ended in 2017.

On July 9, Nakuru County gave landowners in Ndabibi area of Naivasha three weeks to submit their ownership documents, after which the devolved unit would collaborate with the NLC to issue fresh title deeds to individuals and institutions deemed to be genuine owners.

But Mr Njoroge claims that Nakuru County is colluding with some NLC and Lands ministry officials to dispossess genuine landowners of their property in Ndabibi, Maiela Ward in Naivasha Sub-County.

Many counties will likely keep a close eye on the suit, as any decision from the suit will dictate how devolved units resolve complex disputes involving private land

Justice Mutungi on Friday held that Mr Njoroge’s suit raises important questions, whose answers may be eroded if Nakuru is allowed to proceed with the titling process in Ndabibi before a final determination by the courts.

“Leave be and is hereby granted to the applicant (Mr Njoroge) to apply for Judicial Review by way of a declaration that the Nakuru County government does not have the legal mandate to verify and authenticate validity of interest in land and ownership documents and any such verification, authentication and any such processes shall be in violation of the Constitution thus illegal, null and void,” Justice Mutungi said.

“An order be and is hereby granted granting leave as stay of the planned submission and or collection of ownership documents between the dates of July 9, 2021 and July 28, 2021 and the intended verification and authentication of the said ownership documents and subsequent titling as communicated vide the communication published…,” the judge added.

Nakuru County had warned landowners that no documents would be accepted after the July 28 deadline. The land is mixed use property, and it hosts homes, hotels, shops and other establishments.

While Nakuru only listed land under an area registered in government records as Nakuru Municipality Block 19 in its call for documents, the county said that the process may include other parcels.