Economy

Kenyatta University land feud: LSK, activist petition court to block subdivision

amref

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (left) joins President Uhuru Kenyatta during the groundbreaking ceremony for Amref International University (AMIU) Ruiru Campus on July 9, 2022. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

A judge has blocked the planned subdivision of Kenyatta University’s land pending the determination of a petition filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

Justice Oscar Angote further restrained the government from harassing university officials to enforce a Cabinet decision directing the institution to cede part of its land to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for a health emergency hub.

The Environment and Land court judge granted the order barring the university’s council from surrendering title documents of the contentious land as directed by the Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua.

Through senior counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi, the LSK said the chairman of the university council Prof Shem Migot-Adholla had highlighted the constitutional and statutory anomalies in the process of acquiring KU’s land but declined to surrender the title deed.

He further cited that Mr Kinyua had sent a letter to the vice-chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina directing him to surrender the titles. “The vice-chancellor has since resigned due to the pressure,” he said.

According to the applicants, the government has never called for public participation or asked the public to raise issues on compulsory acquisition of the land.

“It is hereby ordered that the application is certified as urgent,” Justice Angote said and directed that the case be heard on July 27.

Activist’s case

Earlier Friday, activist Enock Aura also went to court to block plans to hive off the land for the WHO facility.

In his application, Mr Aura said the Kenyatta University’s land is not idle or available for allocation as it was set aside for education purposes and therefore constitutes protected land.

The institution’s vice chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina was forced out this week, and the university’s council suspended for refusing to surrender the title deeds as directed by Mr Kinyua.

Other than 30 acres earmarked for allocation to WHO, the government wants to hive off another 190 acres to settle Kamae squatters, 10 acres for the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and another 180 acres for the Kenyatta University teaching, Referral and Research Hospital.

Also read: MPs reject Sh600m request for KU hospital

The activist argues that the unlawful takeover will serve no public interest. “The purported land user of the World Health Organisation Medical Emergency Hub will be incompatible with the grant user of the suit land designated for Kenyatta University,” he said in an affidavit.

His lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui says it is illegal for the government to commit a fund of $5 million (approximately Sh600 million) for the unlawful investment.

The activist further argues that the alleged squatters should not be given land because a judgment issued last year by the Environment and Land court dismissed a case they had filed. In the decision, the court noted that the squatters had already been allocated 30 acres as per a list of 1984.

“An expressly unconstitutional and illegal purported alienation of about 410 acres of the suit land belonging to Kenyatta University under Article 62(1) of the constitution is imminently about to occur unless this court intervenes,” Mr Aura said.

“It would be manifestly ultra vires for the Kenyatta University Council to purport to, or be coerced under duress or such like threats and manipulative intimidation to cede part of the land,” he said.

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