Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo has lost a bid to retain a seven-acre parcel of land in Westlands, Nairobi, after the appellate court dismissed his case and upheld a decision directing him to pay the owner Sh100 million for trespass.
Three judges of appeal described the takeover of the parcel on Church Road in Westlands as “outright typical Kenyan-style land grabbing”.
Justices William Ouko, Fatuma Sichale and Kantai ole Sankale said Mr Kabogo, through his company Caroget Investments Ltd, together with officials from the Land ministry and those from the defunct City Council of Nairobi, colluded to alienate private land that had an owner.
“The totality of what we have said is that the first respondent’s title was unimpeachable while that of the appellant was tainted with fraud, illegalities and irregularities,” the judges said.
The court said the “lightning speed with which the entire transaction was executed”, from the moment the property was transferred to Caroget, to the point it was set to sell it to White Horse Investment Limited, all within four months, “smacked of fraud, bad faith and deceit”.
The property, which in 2013 was valued at Sh1.8 billion as per a report filed in court, belongs to Nayan Patel, through Aster Holdings Ltd.
Environment and Land Court judge Elijah Obaga had quashed the transfer of the land to Mr Kabogo stating that it had fraudulently been registered in the name of Caroget.
But Mr Kabogo moved to the Court of Appeal seeking to quash the decision by Justice Obaga, insisting that he had applied to the City Council in 2007 and was duly allocated the land for a 99-year lease.
The former Kiambu County boss said he attempted to sell the property to White Horse Investments Limited for Sh200 million but failed when he was told that its title was irregularly obtained, leading to its cancellation.
But Justice Obaga said the City Hall had actively participated in the fraud leading to the registration of Caroget as the owner of the property. Caroget then invaded the property and occupied it for more than 10 years.
Mr Patel, through lawyer Cohen Amanya, said he had a certificate of title, which in law was conclusive evidence of its proprietorship.