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Ex-Nairobi official fails to stop recovery of land illegally transferred to wife


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Ex-Nairobi official fails to stop recovery of land illegally transferred to wife


The Court of Appeal has declined to suspend the hearing of a case filed by the anti-graft body seeking the repossession of Sh500 million land on Valley Road that was fraudulently transferred to the spouse of a former city council official.

A bench of three judges dismissed the application by Kuria Gathoni saying he has not shown special circumstances to warrant the suspension of the proceedings filed by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

“Neither has he demonstrated that the proceedings in issue are frivolous, vexatious or harassing, are manifestly groundless, or that the 1st respondent’s (EACC) case discloses no cause of action,” Justices Hannah Okwengu, Kibaya Laibuta and John Mativo said.

Mr Kuria wanted the case suspended pending the determination of his appeal. He moved to the appellate court after the Environment and Land Court issued orders blocking him from selling or charging the two-acre parcel of land.

The land is currently used as a car bazaar and EACC says it was set aside for staff housing of the defunct City Council.

EACC says in the petition that former chairman of the defunct City Commission of Nairobi Habib Omar Kongo and Mr Kuria, then working as Director of Planning and Architecture in the former city council fraudulently transferred the property to Rose Wambui Kuria.

The property was then charged to Consolidated Bank to obtain several loans.

Ms Kuria had opposed the case saying she is the lawful owner of the property, having acquired it in the required procedure and paid Sh508,000 to the then Nairobi city commission.

She also said she has been in possession of the land for more than 30 years and plans by EACC to recover the land had been overtaken by time.

Ms Kuria further said she did not discretely solicit for its transfer and registration as alleged by the EACC.

The EACC had also asked the court to compel Ms Kuria to deposit the money she collects from the car bazaar in court pending the outcome of the case, but the application was declined.

The anti-graft body has accused the two former officials of diverting a public resource for the unjust enrichment of individuals by transferring the land to Ms Kuria for private use.

Court documents state that the transfer was illegal because it was done without the consent of the Minister for Local Government contrary to section 144 of the Local Government Act and without a resolution of the full council.

“There was neither full Council resolution nor the requisite Ministerial consent to vary the terms of the grant in respect of the subject property,” EACC states in the court documents.

Further, EACC says the fraud was not discovered until an investigation was undertaken in 2012 and despite being notified of the intention to sue them, they have allegedly refused to surrender the property to the government, leaving the anti-graft body with no option but to move to court.

Other than the cancellation of the title issued to Ms Kuria, EACC also wants her compelled to surrender profits she has made from the land since 1992 and damages for alleged fraud.

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