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The life and times of Moi


Former President Daniel Moi. FILE PHOTO | NMG



  • The former Head of State's retirement life was dogged by property cases that saw him ordered to relinguish thousands of acres of land.

When Daniel Moi left power in 2003, a number of people took him to court seeking various orders against the retired president.

Among them was farmer and neighbour Malcom Bell, who accused the former head of state of taking 100 acres of his land near Kabarak High School.

Mr Bell sued Mr Moi and the school in 2003, seeking to recover the land for their failure to honour his late father’s conditions to have them sink a borehole, construct a cattle dip and supply electricity to his expansive 1,000-plus acre farmland.

But retired Justice Muga Apondi exonerated Mr Moi from blame and ruled that the school had acquired adverse possession of the land.

The land, which has been in possession of Moi High School Kabarak since 1981, is opposite the learning institutions and is used to cultivate food crops.

Mr Bell appealed against the decision and justices Martha Koome and Hannah Okwengu overturned the ruling and gave Mr Moi six months to vacate the land.

Mr Moi and Moi High School Kabarak filed an appeal and successfully sought permission to be allowed to move to the Supreme Court, but five judges of the top court dismissed the appeal stating that there was nothing of great public importance in the matter, ending a 10-year court battle.

Retired Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal, justices Philip Tunoi, Mohammed Ibrahim, Njoki Ndung’u and Smokin Wanjala dismissed the case and awarded costs to Mr Bell saying the case was neither unique nor were arguments raised in it, of general public importance as alleged.

Later, it emerged that the parties, the retired president, Moi High School Kabarak and the Nakuru farmer had entered into an agreement to settle the dispute out of court.

“While the ruling was pending delivery (by the Supreme Court), the parties amicably settled all cases between themselves in a manner that promoted good neighbourliness,” a notice to parents, guardians, friends well-wishers and the general public stated.

In yet another case, former Alego Usonga MP Otieno Mak’onyango sued the government and Mr Moi personally for atrocities he suffered when he was detained after the failed coup in 1982.

Trial judge Kalpana Rawal, absolved Mr Moi of any blame but slapped the government with a Sh20 million bill for the torture the former editor and politician suffered.

Justice Rawal said in the ruling that the evidence before her led to an “irresistible conclusion that the detention of the plaintiff was unconstitutional, unjustified and unlawful”.

Mr Mak’onyango accused the government and Mr Moi of violating his fundamental rights as enshrined under sections 70, 71, 72 and 77 of the former Constitution.

While exonerating Mr Moi, Justice Rawal said it would be unjust and unwarranted to make a head of state personally responsible for failures or misdeeds of State officers without showing his direct participation. “The head of state is not synonymous with the person holding that post unless he is shown to be involved for personal gains or vendetta,” said the judge.

And former deputy director of intelligence Stephen Mwangi Muriithi sued Mr Moi seeking close to Sh2 billion for unlawful detention and occasioning him financial loss.

Justice Jeanne Gacheche in 2011 ruled that Mr Muriithi’s detention without trial was not for the purposes of preserving public security, but for Mr Moi to secure commercial advantage and to interfere with his liberties and rights.

The retired president appealed and in 2014 the Court of Appeal rescued him from paying the former intelligence chief over Sh1.9 billion. The appellate court set aside the decision saying Mr Moi was not personally responsible for Mr Muriithi’s detention, which was an action of the State.

Justices John Mwera, Daniel Musinga and William Ouko also said Mr Muriithi failed to prove the losses he claimed to have suffered when in detention.

“Claims by Mr Muriithi that they jointly had three companies with Mr Moi to ascertain percentage of shares was not proved. His claims that Mr Moi sold off and transferred some of the properties were also not proved,” ruled the judges.

And recently, a group of 249 pastoralists sued Mr Moi and African Wildlife Fund over an expansive parcel of land, but lost the case in 2017. Led by Joseph Lekamario, the group laid claim over the 17,105-acre parcel in Laikipia North.

The case was, however, dismissed by Justice Lucy Waithaka saying evidence adduced showed that at no time did the community dispossess the registered proprietors of the land.

“I find that it does not show that the plaintiffs at any time material to the suit, dispossessed the registered proprietors of their interest in the suit property or that the registered proprietors at any time material to the suit discontinued their possession of the property,” the judge said.

Evidence in court showed that Mr Moi initially owned the land before transferring 17,105 acres to AWF. The court heard that the group occasionally grazed their animals on the land and the owners had on many occasions engaged the local community to discuss social benefits due to the community, to sustain wildlife conservancy.

Mr Moi told the court that he bought the property on or about 1998 from Ol Pejeta Ranching Limited, and there were no squatters. He initially kept livestock before he transferred it to the current owner.

AWF is said to have approached Mr Moi to sell the land to them for conservation, because it was a crucial wildlife migratory corridor.

The farmers were later slapped with a Sh8.2 million bill by Mr Moi’s lawyer Juma Kiplenge. Although the case is pending before the Court of Appeal, Deputy Registrar of the High Court Damacline Bosibori taxed the amount the members of the community are to pay Moi’s lawyer at Sh8,267,666.