The National Land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri has maintained that the controversial Ruaraka land is private.
Mr Swazuri said the owner, Afrison Export Import Limited, has been complaining about illegal intrusion for more than 30 years, and there is no Deed of Surrender to indicate that the land was handed over to the government.
He alleged there is a ploy by the media and a section of government officials to push him and fellow commissioners to resign.
“Only cowards resign because of intimidation. We are here to stay and help President [Uhuru] Kenyatta realize his four agendas,” he said.
Prof Swazuri reiterated that the commission was first aware of the matter in July 2015 when Afrison Limited sought its intervention.
“The gist of the complaint was that its property had been illegally occupied, which occupation he contested for over 30 years without much help or success,” the Chairman said.
The NLC, he said, pursued the matter with the ministries of Education and Lands, the Office of the Government Adviser, the Attorney General and others, to confirm the claims.
“The Ministry of Education Cabinet secretary wrote to the NLC on March 17, 2018 acknowledging the complaint and confirming that indeed there were public schools built on the private land.
“The CS then formally requested the commission to guide it in the requisite formal process and secure public interest by acquiring the land on which the schools stand,” Prof Swazuri said.
The Attorney General too, he said, wrote an advisory opinion to the Ministry of Education on July 7, 2017 confirming the public interest of the schools and the need for compulsory acquisition since the facilities are on private land.
“If all these have done their investigations in the past and confirmed in writing that the Land is indeed private land, why is it then that we have these confrontations? This is pure witch-hunt and it is very unfair to the commission,” he said.
He also said that records at the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning indicated that on March 28, 1984 the registered owner objected the conditional approval of the subdivision by the Nairobi City Council.
“If a subdivision is approved and all conditions are accepted by the applicant, requisite approval fees are applicable and a new survey is undertaken.
“Planning requirements form part of the conditions and may require that the applicant surrenders a specific part of the land (10pc) for public utilities and purposes,” he said, adding that upon sublission a Deed of Surrender must be prepared and put on record.
A letter by Afrison Director Francis Mburu on November 16, 2016 titled “Historical injustices partial occupation of private property by the Ministries of Education and Interior”, requested the commission to compensate the companies for the illegal occupation by Ruaraka Secondary School (13 acres) and a chief’s camp (4 acres).
Last week, Mr Mburu, his two sons and businessman John Mutwiri were arrested and interrogated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission pertaining the issue.
Mr Mburu later said he will sue the Nairobi County government over the dispute and also present the matter before the Dubai International Court.
Mr Mburu, 65, accused Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko of deceiving Kenyans and the government, saying that Mr Sonko and other individuals had illegally allocated over 800 plots that are on his property.
“My companies Afrison Imports Limited and Huelands Limited has never surrendered the land. That land is my property since 1981.
“I now want Sh30 billion from the Nairobi County government because they took the property and they have built highrise buildings on my property; and now they are talking about surrender,” he said.
The businessman said the government had allocated over 13 acres of land to the public and then claimed that it was surrendered.
“I have never surrendered any land. My companies have never surrendered any land and on this one, I am going to win,” he added.
He said the land is a freehold property.
“This land is not on the 99 years government allocation. I am coming out with Sh25 billion and of course if they want me to refund Sh1.5 billion, I will.”
Moreover, he said he had paid all the land rates and shown goodwill by donating 13 acres to the public yet the law requires that he gives only 10 per cent of the entire acres, 9.6 acres.
Mr Mburu told the media outside EACC offices at Integrity Centre that he acquired the land through hard work when he was 30 years old.
He also said the government is creating a publicity stunt to victimise him.
The NLC paid Sh1.5 billion to Whispering Palms Estate’s Barclays Bank account, which in turn paid Champions Kenya Limited owned by Mr Mutwiri Sh930 million.
Within three days, Champions Kenya Limited had paid Sh649 million to 16 entities, among them insurance companies, law firms, logistics companies and a forex bureau.
But Mr Mburu claimed that all the companies paid the money belong to him: “Those are my companies. I have over 50 companies. They blocked my funds after that and I could not withdraw any money.”
BANK ACCOUNTS FROZEN
The EACC sources said about 30 people among them lawyers, bankers, government officials and family members of those involved in the dubious sale of public land in Ruaraka are being investigated over their role in the Sh1.5 billion saga.
The commission and the Asset Recovery Agency, it is said, have seized properties belonging to them.
It also revealed that their bank accounts were frozen as investigations continue.
Investigators are seeking to establish whether Afrison and Huelands Ltd, National Treasury and Ministry of Education officials colluded to defraud taxpayers.
Governor Sonko told a Senate committee that the land belongs to the public.
If this is true then it means the government – through the NLC – bought its own land. -Daily Nation