Moi in court row with widow over Sh500m land


Retired President Daniel arap Moi. After ruling Kenya for 24 years, Mr Moi has been faced by an avalanche of legal challenges upon retirement, leaving him with a huge litigation bill that runs into millions of shillings. FILE PHOTO |

Former President Daniel arap Moi is locked in another land dispute where a widow is seeking the former Head of State to return her late husband’s 53 acres of prime land in Eldoret valued at over half a billion shillings.

Susan Chelungui has asked the High court to compel Mr Moi and Rai Plywoods Company, which is hosted in the contested land, to return the land or compensate her family at market value.

The widow, 76, is claiming that the land was illegally taken from her husband through fraud and forgery involving the retired President, who later sold it to the Eldoret-based timber firm, Rai Plywoods Company.

She has asked the court to declare the acquisition of the land and subsequent sale illegal.

In the case filed under a certificate of urgency by lawyer William Arusei, it is alleged that the late former assistant minister Stanley Metto used deception to obtain the title deed from Noah Chelungui, who was then a chief of Surgoi Location in Uasin Gishu.

Ms Chelungui says in court papers that her husband received Sh70,000 from Mr Metto, claiming that it was not for the land sale.

Mr Arusei told High Court judge Sila Munyao that attempts to revert the land back have been futile.

The judge directed Mr Arusei to serve Mr Moi, Rai Plywood (K) Ltd, Registrar of Titles, District Land Registrar Uasin Gishu and the National Land Commission, who have been named as defendants, with suit papers to enable them file defenses.

Justice Munyao declined to grant interim orders sought by the widow and directed the case to be heard fully to give the defendants a chance to answer to the allegations raised by the widow and her son David Kipkemboi Chelungui who are the joint administrators of the estate of the deceased.

After ruling Kenya for 24 years, Mr Moi has been faced by an avalanche of legal challenges upon retirement, leaving him with a huge litigation bill that runs into millions of shillings.

READ: Business deals leave Moi with a suits burden in retirement

From business-related cases, property disputes in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret and Mombasa, and alleged gross human rights violations he allegedly committed in office, the lawsuits have continued piling up by the day.

Many of the suits are of a civil nature but had to wait until Mr Moi retired because as President the law shielded him from both criminal and civil suits.

No settlement

On the Eldoret property, the  judge heard Mr Arusei wrote a demand letter to Mr Moi on April 3 seeking to resolve the matter, a proposal that was accepted by the former Head of State’s lawyer Juma Kiplenge on April 9.

“We are of the view that this matter can be sorted out without litigating,” Mr Kiplenge stated in a letter.

Mr Arusei says the widow resulted to move to court after Mr Kiplenge went quiet over the out-of-court settlement.

The widow her late husband lost a huge portion of his land for no consideration states through the alleged illegal acts by Mr Metto in the 1970s to organise a sale of the land.

The widow says her late husband’s efforts to recover his land during the Moi presidency became difficult.

She says paper tracing of the land has shown that Mr Moi acquired 53 acres while Mr Metto ended up with 12 acres. The titles to the present owners were issued in 2007, two years after the death of Mr Chelugui in 2005.

She is asking the court to cancel the suspect title deeds saying the present owners acquired the land through fraud, mistake and misrepresentation.

She alleges Mr Moi and Rai Plywood were party to the illegal acquisition.