Economy

Moi-era head of public service loses 300-acre land in Trans Nzoia

swazuri

NLC chairman Mohamad Swazuri. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The NLC revoked the title in November last year and vested ownership of the land on the National Fund for the Disabled of Kenya, sparking the legal battle.
  • Lesmat claims that it became aware of the revocation of the title when it was published in the gazette notice on November 9, 2018

A company associated with a former head of public service in retired President Daniel arap Moi’s government is fighting to reclaim ownership of 304 acres it lost after the title was revoked by the National Land Commission (NLC).

Mr Joseph arap Letting’s firm, Lesmat Limited, which held title to the land south east of Kitale Municipality, Trans Nzoia, has filed a suit seeking to reverse the revocation, arguing that it was done without giving it a hearing.

“Prior to the alleged revocation, the applicant was not aware nor had it ever been served with any notice or complaint in respect to ownership of this property,” says Maureen Cheptoo Letting, a director of Lesmat, in the court documents.

Ms Cheptoo has sworn an affidavit on behalf of the firm. Mr Letting, who at one time also served as MP for Emgwen, died in November 2015.

The NLC revoked the title in November last year and vested ownership of the land on the National Fund for the Disabled of Kenya, sparking the legal battle.

Initially owned by MP

Documents filed in court show that the land was initially owned by a former Member of Parliament, William Morogo Saina.

Mr Letting claimed to have purchased the land from Mr Saina in 1989 at a cost of Sh7.2 million. The court papers say he borrowed Sh9 million from the Agricultural Finance Corporation to purchase the land and later charged it as collateral. Ms Cheptoo says that Mr Letting paid back the loan after which the tittle was discharged.

Lesmat claims that it became aware of the revocation of the title when it was published in the gazette notice on November 9, 2018, a move it terms an infringement on its right to fair administrative action.

The company claims the land was always private property and that the NLC has no power to revoke title to private land.

Court documents

Court documents list Moi University, an unnamed primary school, and Mr Letting as beneficiaries when the land was sub-divided into six portions in 1989 by Mr Saina.

In one of the letters addressed to Mr Saina in May, 1989, the university complained of delay in transferring the portion reserved to them.

The documents show that Mr Letting was also actively involved in facilitating sub-division of the land.