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Drama In Court Over Sh1B Land Feud Involving Co-Op Bank MD Muriuki And Squatters



Gideon Muriuki, Co-Operative Bank MD.

The lower Criminal Court at Milimani Nairobi County Kenya was treated to a familiar set of drama that forced the court to adjourn a case that has failed to take off for the third time.

Senior Principal Magistrate Gilbert Shikwe got furious on noticing that the DCI through state prosecution had switched files. The judge noted that the documentary evidence in a 11-acre land dispute supplied to the accused was not the same as with the prosecution’s.

The anomaly was detected by the defence Lawyer George Gilbert during cross examination of the state witness where Sowesava Self-help group and nine other people were are charged with invading a piece of land in Nairobi’s Donholm Estate.

They include Patobas Awino the Organising  Secretary of Sowesava Self-help group, Alando Nailanel, Peter Keya Owino, David Mutuku Makau, Kennedy Odhiambo Alex, Titus Ochieng Okoth, Boniface Oduor Anyiego, Calvince Ochieng Ooko, among others.

They are accused that on May 24, 2018, at Donholm Phase 8 in Embakasi sub county, jointly with others not before Court and in order to take possession thereof entered on the parcel of land formerly No, Block 82 /7333 now part of Nairobi Block No/78/13 to Nairobi block 82/7856 the property of MS/Gidjoy.

They are also charged with invading the parcel of land in a violent manner by chasing away security guards while armed with crude weapons.

In March 2018, the accused persons were charged with maliciously damaging a perimeter wall valued at Sh144, 400.

In August, the four officials of the Sowesava self-help group were charged afresh with conspiracy to defraud Gidjoy Investment Limited 11.8 Acres parcels of land worth around 1 billion.

The four include former Chief of Kayole in Nairobi Alexander Hoops, Peter Gitau Muiruri, Peter Njoroge Kanika, and Patrobas Awino. They are accused of conspiring to defraud the said company the said property located in Donholm Nairobi by false pretending that they had a genuine title deed issued and signed by Rosemary Anyango Ngong’a, a Land’s Registrar.

State prosecution is being accused by the court of playing rogue leading to the adjournment of the case for the third time. In all the cases, the prosecution has been introducing new evidence every time without informing the court and the defense as required in the trials protocols.

In the previous adjournment the State witness representing Gidjoy investment Limited was unable to authenticate before the trial Court whether he was the real complainant in the ongoing criminal matter, after the defence cornered him during cross examination, whereby the defence orally submitted for a request for the genuine complainant Gidjoy investment Limited (Co-operative Bank Managing Director Gideon Muriuki and his wife)to be summoned as witnesses to shade more light on the vigourous ownership of the said disputed prime land within the capital City prime place Donholm Estate.

Former Kayole chief Alexander Hoops, Patrobas Awino, Peter Gitau and Peter Njoroge before a Nairobi court on August 6, 2021 where they were charged with Sh944 million land fraud.

The disputed land is the formerly Nairobi /block 82/7333 now part of the amalgamation of other parcels valued at Sh944 million.

Kenya Insights is informed that the tag of war spans over 3 decades, the squatters insists they’re the lawful owners of the land that they’ve occupied and lived in for over 30 years before Gidjoy claimed ownership in what they say is land grabbing.

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In the line, the officials of the group have had to face several charges individually.

In the first count, they are accused of  intent to defraud Gidjoy Investment Ltd of 11.8 acres in Donholm and making a false allotment letter purporting it to be genuine and issued by a lands administration officer jointly with others not before court on unknown dates.

They also face a second count of forging a lease purportedly signed by  Rosemary Ngong’a , a land registrar, on unknown dates within the country.

They further face a third count of forging a title with intent to defraud Gidjoy investment Ltd purporting it was issued by Ngong’a.

The court also heard that the four forged a lease document purportedly signed and stamped by Ng’arua Kamuya, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

The suspects further allegedly conspired to defraud Gidjoy Investments Limited by falsely pretending they had a genuine title dated November 28, 2001 issued and signed by Ngong’a.

Bloody pursuit of a title deed.

Over the years, goons, policemen and other hirelings have attacked members of Sowesava Self Help Group for many reasons as they sought to find a resolution to a matter with no end in sight.

“It is painful. We live in real poverty while a rich man somewhere in Karen sleeps in peace and joy that he has made life difficult for us. You can imagine that any time we are seen here; a group of people, sometimes from a neighbouring country attack us. We report the matter to the police and after two hours, they are released,” says Moses Waithaka in a documentary of the tribulations the members of the group have encountered.

Under such circumstances, the Sowesava Group members have been exposed to a powerful cartel of land grabbers who have vowed to block their legitimate ownership of he land that was cleared by the old provincial administration.

Back in 2002, Wesley Cheruyiot wrote to the defunct Nairobi City Council advising them to regularise the land and have the process initiated to complete a process that was to convert it to a public utility. Sadly, the parcel of land in question was claimed by Continental Developers and no one knows how it later changed hands to Gidjoy Investments, a company associated with a managing Director of a leading bank in the country.

In stead, it had been a tale of with chronological breakdown of the events that lead to the non-implementation of the process, which has admittedly been littered with sweat, blood and tears for the honest members of this self help group.

In the process of these chaos, seven high court judges have adjudicated on the case, offering a dimension that clearly proves that Sowesava, a group of squatters from the sprawling Kayole and Soweto Estates are the legitimate owners.

In 2003, Judge GBM Kariuki issued restraining orders from invasion and evicting of the squatters until the case was heard and determined after Continental Developers allegedly laid claim to the land. In the same year, Judge Rimita ruled that Continental Developers should be refrained from demolishing houses in Embakasi. Orders were that Court rulings should be respected at all times.

However, the case took a different twist when Lady Judge Joyce Aluoch, currently working at the International Criminal Court dismissed the case. Judge Aluoch dismissed with costs after the Judge ruled that there was lack of prosecution in the case, ruling was in favour of Jua Kali and Sowesava and other squatters on the piece of land 82/7333.

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In 2004, Judge Paul Mugo also ruled in favour of Sowesava after Continental Developers made another attempt on the land in question.

Current AG Paul Kihara in 2006 adjudicated on the matter, which was in favour of the Jua Kali Association, one of those adjoined with Sowesava. Justice Msagha Mbogholi in 2009 ruled that Continental Developers did not serve the summons and it was an abuse of the court process and there was no prosecution instigated by them.

Somehow, after this, the case went dead for a while and it emerged when Gidjoy Investment laid claim to the land, this time, claiming to have bought it from its original owners Continental Developers.

A look through and search at the Registrar found that Gidjoy Investments is owned by one of the biggest corporate names (Gideon Muriuki) in the banking world alongside his wife(Joy), something that reinforces the squatters pursuit for the land. The forces they are fighting are legend.

“This bit of the case really confuses. The land in question belongs to the County Government and there is no way the land could have changed hands almost immediately to private ownership. I have in my life never seen such a matter being prosecuted. IN simple terms, those laying claim to this land are powerful and placed in high positions and ready do anything within their means,” said the chairman of the group Alex Shihemi.

Strange still, three officials of the group have died under mysterious circumstances. The chairman, vice-chairman and treasurer of the group have all been murdered and found dead while offering the noble duty of making the records of ownership right for the piece of land.

In 2002, then Town Clerk John Mbugua wrote a letter requesting for the squatters to re resettled on the land and wanted its formalisation and the registration of Jua Kali, Kwa Moraa, Vumilia, Riverside and attached a ruling by Justice Aluoch.

Later in 2007, J Tanui, director in charge of investigations at the Nairobi City Council asked Continental developers to surrender 20 per cent of 1200 acre for the settlement and development of the intended purpose.

In 2008, Town Clerk John Gakuo recommended the settlement of the squatters of Savannah Jua kali on Land 82/7812.

In the process, Sowesava Self Help Group Chairman Alex Shihemi has been active in the whole process, including the removal of illegal dumping that was officially applied for and effected by the county government in 2015 as a matter of public service. The CEC Land SG Mwangi approved the same in a letter dated 10/03/2015. This move was on the strength of a letter by the CEC Environment and Forestry who offered no objection to any such move.

On 4/05/2015, the Chief Lands Officer found no objection to the land given to Sowesava SH Group. It recommends for the settlement of Sowesava squatters.

Further on, the county secretary confirmed the status of the land as a public utility to the National lands Commission (NLC) chairman on 10/07/2015.

In a big shocker, the Nairobi County Government cancelled the illegal and fraudulent amalgamation that had been sought and acquired by Continental developers and ordered for it to be reverted to its original owners Sowesava and its original purpose as public utility be maintained.

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The CEC lands P Odongo wrote a letter to Mohammed Swazuri confirming that the land belongs to Sowesava as its bonafide owners on 2/01/2016. The same information was communicated to Buru Buru Police urging them not to be party to the process of influencing the ownership of the land. Leo Njora, from the National Police Service (NPC) wrote a letter confirming to the police the status of the land amid accusations of interference.

The Ministry of Lands has over the years confirmed and identified the fraudulent and illegal amalgamation of the land in question against it said owners Continental Developers.

During a Public Hearing at the NLC offices, all interested parties were invited to the matter and suddenly, a new owner, Gidjoy Investment Company appeared. During the hearing those who attended included Kibuchi, Sowesava, Kitek Limited, Ruth Wanguru, Donholm Phase 5 and Oyster. All of these had purchased land from Continental or the many faces of Gidjoy/Continental Developers.

In the determination, the NLC informed the County Secretary Robert Ayisi of the same. The letter dated 14/11/2016 by NLC Chairman Swazuri confirmed the deliberations and that the land belonged to Sowesava and rejected all moves by Gidjoy/Continental to deprive the rightful owners of their land, including the illegal amalgamations.

In another investigative report by the director of investigation Paul Ndambuki dated 02/02/2018, confirms the fraud and directs that the county government proceeds and settles the squatters as per earlier directions and determinations. “Any other party claiming ownership was to be charged in court.

Sowesava lawyer Abwao Advocates has over the years written to the authorities about the arrests, intimidation and harassment by police and agents appointed by Continental Developers.

Judge’s Warning.

Senior Principal Magistrate Gilbert Shikwe in a brief ruling warned the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Investigating Officer that, failure to supply the correct evidential materials to all the accused and the continuing habit of introducing new evidence after the pretrial was already done contrary to the trial procedural laws, will only results to the expunging of the said fresh illegally introduced documentary evidential materials and the Court will have no option but to proceed with the hearing based on the documentary materials before it inline with the law. Article 50 of the New 2010 Constitution on fair trial.

Earlier the witness who is employed as a Private Security Officer in the adjuscent premise, contradicted his evidence in chief after he claimed that the perimeter concrete and wood poles were vanderslised by the accused retracted his statement, only to confirm to the Court that none of the said perimeter barbed wire concrete and wood poles were intact and were never vandalised as said before, while being cross examined by the defence lawyer George Gilbert.

At the same time the lawyer watching brief for the complainant Kariuki was warned by the trial court Magistrate for displaying unprofessional conduct and frequently interrupting the criminal proceedings, leading to the trial court to be adjourned briefly and unnecessarily, the Magistrate further urged the lawyer Kariuki watching for the complainant to style up and familiarize himself with the code of conduct during the court proceedings.

The hearing will resume on 16th of November year 2021 at 9am East Africa Time, where the State Prosecution was warned and reminded by the Court, that the trial Court will not hesitate to expunge the already submitted evidential materials if they fail to correct the I dentified anormallies and serve all the accused with the correct evidential documents to enable the accused prepare to defend themselvesfrom the allegations.

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