Retired President Daniel arap Moi and two other persons have been ordered to pay Sh1 billion as compensation to the family of a deceased politician whose 85-year-old widow has battled for years over the ownership of an up-market parcel of land measuring 53 acres.
High Court judge Antony Ombwayo Friday declared the hotly contested prime property within Eldoret municipality belongs to the estate of the late Noah Kimngeny Chelungui.
The court directed the widow, Susan Cheburet Chelungui, and her son David K. Chelungui (joint administrators of the estate of the late Chelungui) to be compensated Sh1,060,000,000 by Mr Moi and Rai Plywood (K) Limited for the land.
The judge declined to order that the land reverts to the estate of the deceased, saying investors have heavily developed it.
The Sh1 billion payout, said the judge, was “commensurate compensation as it is the current market value”.
Pay in full
The judge ordered Mr Moi and Rai Plywood to “promptly pay in full” the decretal amount.
The land is located on the busy commercial and residential area of Eldoret.
It is also within the industrial, institutional, government and agricultural establishments, with the Eldoret-Malaba Road passing through the property, “which makes it of highest value.”
The judge allowed the widow’s plea by declaring that she is entitled to legal protection since the acquisition of her property by Mr Moi and Rai Plywood was “unconstitutional, irregular, unprocedural, tainted, a nullity ab initio (from the beginning) and therefore not worthy of any constitutional protection.”
He found that the widow was illegally dispossessed of the land and that she is therefore entitled to a redress.
The property was first registered in Mr Moi’s name in September 21, 1983.
The widow, through lawyer William Arusei, told the judge that her late husband, Chelungui, and five others bought the land measuring 3,300 acres from a colonial settler, Jacobus Hendrik EngelBrecht, in 1965. Each of the six got 620 acres after sub-division.
The land was later allocated to the former Head of State then registered in his name.
Mr Moi was apportioned 53 acres, a former assistant minister Stanlely Kiptoo arap Metto (12 acres) and a small portion dished out to the deceased.
“The process that led to the late Noah K. Chelungui losing his parcels of the aforesaid land was without his consent, no sale agreement, no compensation, no willing seller and willing buyer and hence an illegality, null and void,” stated Arusei.
“There is no iota of evidence as to how the former President of the Republic of Kenya Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was registered as the proprietor of the suit land, which was part of and parcel of L R No.104921/1 that belonged to Noah Kimngeny Chelungui.
"The state counsel stated that these were orders from above by the first defendant who was the president (Moi),” said Justice Ombwayo in his 58-page judgment.