The Redeemed Gospel Church Nairobi is facing eviction from a piece of public land that it was illegally allocated by the defunct City Council in the populous Umoja II Estate 22 years ago.
Though the church defended the allocation for the parcel as legal the Land Court has ruled it was unlawful since the property was reserved for a community social hall in the expansive residential area.
In restoring the land to community utilisation, the court relied on evidence from three reports that had recommended revocation of the title the church held as well as the allotment letter.
The recommendations include Ndung’u Commission report published in June 2004 and the City Council’s General Purposes Committee meeting held on August 23, 2006.
The National Land Commission (NLC) also investigated the legality of the allocation of the suit property to the church under its power to review grants and dispositions of public land.
The NLC through a notice in the Kenya Gazette on July 18, 2014, also made a finding that the property was allocated to the church illegally and recommended revocation of its title.
The church told Justice Samuel Okongo that it was allocated the land for 99 years through a letter of allotment dated August 11, 1998. Three witnesses of the church including Joshua Katua Ngoi, Reverend John Kitonga and Bishop Daniel Mutiso testified on how the church acquired the property.
The church stated that after complying with the terms of the allotment, it was registered as the owner of the property and issued with a certificate of lease on July 7, 2011.
Umoja Residents Association through its chairman Peter Stephen Kinyanjui and secretary Arkipo Onyango said the church had acquired the land fraudulently because the plot had been set aside for public use since subdivision of the area.
Justice Okongo found that during the planning of the estate, the plot was surrendered to the City Council to hold in trust for a public purpose.
“As a trustee of the said property, the City Council could not deal with the same in a manner inconsistent with that trust and without consulting the beneficiaries of the trust,” he said.
Concerning the procedure that was adopted in the allotment, the court found that the law was not followed.
Section 144(5) of the Local Government Act (now repealed) provided that consent of the Local Government minister had to be obtained before a local authority could dispose of land by way of a lease more than seven years.