Two families in Uasin Gishu were Wednesday awarded Sh8 billion for the compulsory acquisition of their land by two State agencies over 30 years ago in a row that entangled former president Daniel Moi.
Justice Anthony Ombwayo, sitting in the High Court’s Environment and Land Court in Eldoret, ordered the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) to pay the families of Nathan Tirop Koech and Zacharia Kimutai Kosgei the money for the unlawful takeover of their land totalling 1,150 acres.
He awarded Mr Koech and Mr Kosgei, representing the estate of the late Thomas Kipkogeia arap Rator Sh3.7 billion for the unlawful occupation of the family’s 546-acre land.
The judge also gave Ezekiel Kiprop and Ernest Kibet, representing the estate of the late William Kimngeny arap Leting, Sh4.1 billion for illegal occupation of their 604-acre land.
In his judgment dated April 15, 2016, Justice Ombwayo also granted the two families a further Sh500 million in Mesne profits—which are earnings taken by a tenant in wrongful possession from the time they acquired the property to the moment of judgment.
Also named in the suit and compelled to pay the compensation to the estate of the two families is Nathaniel Lagat, the previous co-owner of the land, the Commissioner of Lands (now the National Land Commission), the Ministry of Lands and the Director of Survey.
In their affidavit, the two families had named former President Daniel Moi and former assistant minister and Mosop MP the late Stanley Metto as some of the illegal beneficiaries of the land.
In his 66-page ruling, Justice Ombwayo granted the two families an additional Sh500 million as profit for loss of land use over the 30-year period.
The land is located on the outskirts of Eldoret town along the Eldoret-Uganda highway and it has several units occupied by different individuals which the court says are not authorised by the legal owners.
Justice Ombwayo issued the compensation for the compulsory take-over of land from the two families based on Section 75 of the old Constitution and Article 40 of the current Constitution.
The constitutional requirements stipulates that prompt payment in full or compensation is paid to occupants whose land has been acquired.
Mr Javan Kipnyekwei, who represented the two families, argued that they never received any compensation.
The families argued that the previous regime compulsorily acquired the land without any compensation, leaving them disgruntled.
They filed a suit in 1988 demanding compensation for land acquired by the government for the Inland Container Deport, currently managed by KPA, a request that was never made to them.
In his argument Mr Kipnyekwei stated that the two families and three other co-owners purchased 3,236 acres of land in 1977 but part of it was later illegally sub-divided without their consent and allocated to individuals and the two State agencies.
He claimed that the families suffered losses after deregistration of land was irregularly changed to suit urban residential estates, commercial and industrial zones and public utilities without compensation.
But the defense team, led by Mr Stephen Kiambi, while dismissing the suit, claimed the demand of the compensation by the two families was an afterthought after the land was acquired more than 30 years ago, adding that Attorney General Githu Muigai would appeal the ruling.