Court orders PCEA church to pay ex-MP Sh4.5m for illegal land occupation

Faithful at PCEA church, Uthiru after worship on December 1, 2013
Faithful at PCEA church, Uthiru after worship on December 1, 2013. A court has ordered the church to pay former Nyeri Town MP Wanyiri Kihoro Sh4.5 million for illegally occupying his land for more than 30 years. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The High Court has ordered a church to pay former Nyeri Town MP Wanyiri Kihoro Sh4.5 million for illegally occupying his land in Uthiru, Nairobi for more than 30 years.

The Presbyterian Church of East Africa PCEA (Uthiru Church) and its chairperson, were also directed to remove their structures on the land within 90 days.

High Court Judge Elijah Obaga, in his judgment, found that the church had illegally been occupying the land that initially belonged to Mr Kihoro’s wife, the late political activist Dr Wanjiru Kihoro.

Justice Obaga held that the church has no basis remaining on the land because it had failed to demonstrate that it met the statutory threshold to claim ownership of the land.

The judge also held that the restriction, which was registered on the land by Town Council of Kikuyu, making it difficult for Mr Kihoro to take ownership of the land from the church, had no basis.

In hospital

The Town Council of Kikuyu was directed to pay Mr Kihoro Sh2.5 million in damages.

“The restriction and caution were put in place when Dr Wanjiru was immobilised in hospital. PCEA (Uthiru Church) was even running around during this period trying to have the land registrar carry out proceedings in respect of ownership of the suit property,” Justice Obaga.

The court also noted that PCEA (Uthiru Church) as well as Town Council of Kikuyu, were aware of the condition of Mr Kihoro’s wife as the registered owner of the property.

“The actions of the Town Council of Kikuyu, PCEA (Uthiru Church), and Chairperson PCEA Uthiru Church call for not only an award of general compensatory damages but also exemplary damages,” justice Obaga.

Mr Kihoro had told the court that PCEA (Uthiru Church) had illegally taken possession of the half acre and built a worship centre on it, after claiming to be the beneficiaries of his wife, the political activist Dr Wanjiru Kihoro, as she lay in a coma in Nairobi Hospital.

But the church had argued that the land is rightfully theirs and belonged to them long before Dr Kihoro bought it.

Busia crash

Dr Kihoro was injured with other Narc luminaries in the 2003 plane crash in Busia when taking off after a celebration victory for the then Vice President Moody Awori.

She died in October 2006 after being in coma at Nairobi Hospital for three years and nine months.

Mr Kihoro and his wife were at the forefront of Mr Kibaki's presidential campaign in 1997 and together they donated Sh16 million for his bid, money raised from friends in London and South Africa.

Justice Obaga said that after Dr Kihoro was immobilised in hospital due to the Busia plane crash, Mr Kihoro sustained pressure on the church to surrender the land and it was therefore clear that the church had not enjoyed ownership of the property openly, properly, peacefully and without interruption to warrant their alleged entitlement through adverse possession.