High Court pushes Sh12bn Ruaraka land suit to environmental divisionFriday March 17 2023
The High Court has opted not to hear a petition filed by businessman Francis Mburu who is seeking Sh12.1 billion in compensation from the government for allegedly taking over his land in Ruaraka, saying the matter ought to be handled by the Environment and Land Court.
Mr Mburu is valuing the compensation he is due for the land—which hosts two public schools— at Sh13.6 billion but says the government paid him Sh1.5 billion following a judgment in 2019.
Attorney General Justin Muturi has, however, opposed the petition arguing that the case was filed in the wrong forum and should be struck out.
“It is, therefore, necessary that the matter be transferred to the land court so that all these claims can be dealt with,” Justice Dennis Magare said.
The judge said although the Attorney General wanted the case struck out, he would exercise his discretion and transfer the case to the Land Court, given that the predominant question in the matter is land.
Mr Mburu said in the petition that he purchased the property in December 1981 from a company known as Joreth Limited.
The National Land Commission (NLC), which has been named in the petition, wrote to the Ministry of Education in 2016 regarding the parcels where Drive-in primary and Ruaraka Secondary schools stand, with plans to compensate Mr Mburu.
The commission later pushed for payment of Sh1.5 billion to Mr Mburu, leaving a balance of Sh1.76 billion.
However, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) challenged the payment and a bench of three judges ruled that the land where the two schools sit is public land and should not have been subjected to compulsory acquisition. The matter is still pending at the Court of Appeal.
Mr Mburu says the land was initially 96 acres and he applied for sub-division, which was accepted by the defunct City Council if the businessman surrendered a portion for the development of the schools.
Part of the land was later taken up by the government and used to develop the General Service Unit (GSU) headquarters and the two schools which occupy 13 acres.
“I have seen the apathy with which the applicant views the Environment and land court. It was clear from day one, that for some reason the petitioners were hedging their bets. They have cases all over,” the judge noted in the ruling.