Profiles

George Nyanja: Burly architect bruised by phony land deal

GeorgeNyanja

Former Limuru MP George Nyanja. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The political bug bit him as Kenyans fought for the second liberation in the early 1990s.
  • He went ahead and won the Limuru parliamentary seat, which he held until 2002 when he lost to the late Kuria Kanyingi.
  • His attempts thereafter to recapture the seat have not been successful.

Before he ventured into politics, former Limuru MP George Nyanja ran a successful firm as an architect.

The political bug bit him as Kenyans fought for the second liberation in the early 1990s. He went ahead and won the Limuru parliamentary seat, which he held until 2002 when he lost to the late Kuria Kanyingi.

His attempts thereafter to recapture the seat have not been successful. The politician tried to become the first Kiambu governor in 2012 but dropped out of the race to try his luck in the senatorial position on a Narc ticket but lost.

He was at it again in 2017 but pulled out of the race yet many of his supporters thought he was a strong candidate to take on Kimani Wamatangi.

In his quest to capture the seat, the former MP tried several political parties to get to Parliament. From Narc to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA to Musalia Mudavadi’s UDF, before trying his luck as an independent candidate.

After losing the parliamentary quest, Mr Nyanja retreated to a quiet life at his firm on Ngong Road until sometime in 2018 when he was back in the news, after being involved in a gun drama.

Then, Mr Nyanja allegedly fired his gun in a bid to stop county askaris from demolition a structure in Karen, which the officials said was constructed without approvals. The former MP later presented himself before a Kibera court.

Last week, Mr Nyanja lost yet another battle, this time in court. The matter, which has been in court corridors for a while, involves a transaction between him and a fellow architect, which happened more than 35 years ago, according to court records.

As good friends, Mr Nyanja and Ghulam Rasool Jammohamed entered a deal. The politician was to purchase the latter’s property for Sh2 million.

Time was of the essence as Mr Nyanja and Mr Jammohamed inked the deal at a law firm in 1985 for a 1.8-acre plot on Ngong Road. He paid part of the amount but he allegedly failed to clear the balance and the matter moved to court.

Justice Kossy Bor of the Environment and Land court later ruled that Mr Nyanja had paid the balance of the agreed amount, and the property should be transferred to him.

The representatives of the estate of Mr Jammohamed appealed and a bench of three judges overturned the decision saying there was no evidence that Mr Nyanja paid the balance.

In the deal, Mr Nyanja agreed to purchase the property from his professional colleague at Sh2 million. He was to pay the amount by October 1985 and interest would be charged thereafter. That the seller was entitled to 16 percent interest on the delayed balance, the agreement stated.

Evidence presented in court showed that the seller’s advocate wrote to Mr Nyanja three letters reminding him to pay the balance and asking him not to interfere with the tenants occupying the property.

The court heard that the two architects trusted each other and that Mr Nyanja took possession of the property, not as a tenant but as the owner.

As of January 1986, the seller had written to Mr Nyanja, threatening to rescind the agreement, forfeit the deposit and sell it to another buyer.

The seller died on March 19, 1986, and Mohamed Sharif Chaudhry was appointed the administrator of the estate. The administrator took over and reminded Nyanja to pay the balance within 30 days, which the politician promised to settle by August 1986.

When the matter moved to court, Mr Nyanja said he paid the balance in cash but he did not call anyone to corroborate his story.

While overturning the High Court decision, Justices Asike Makhandia, Patrick Kiage, and Sankale ole Kantai of the appellate court ordered Mr Nyanja to pay the estate damages and rent he has collected on the property for the three decades he occupied it. The family was demanding rent of Sh25 million, between 1986 and 2011.

The judges went on to state that Mr Nyanja was unable to mention a date or place when he alleges to have made so large a payment, in cash.

“We do not think that the friendship or trust between the deceased and him can explain so glaring a gap,” the judges said.

The politician did not give up as he went back to the same court, seeking a review of the judgment but it was rejected. Mr Nyanja had tried to persuade the judges to reverse the decision on grounds that the decision was faulty. He accused the judges of bias and failing to understand the dispute, resulting in errors.

He escalated the matter to the Supreme Court but a bench of five judges presided by Chief Justice Martha Koome declined to hear the case saying another application, raising similar issues is pending before the Court of Appeal.

“As a corollary and without this basis, this application cannot succeed, in addition to the fact that there is a parallel application for the very relief pending before the Court of Appeal. Any remarks by this court would amount to premature comments on issues yet to be adjudicated by the Court of Appeal,” the Supreme Court said.