The Environment and Lands Court has ordered the status quo to be maintained in a case where two companied are fighting over the ownership of Sh 1.5 billion land in Embakasi, Nairobi.
In the case, Wamunyoro Investment Limited has sued the Director of physical planning at the Ministry of Land John Michael Ohas, his company Columbus Two Thousand Limited and Land Chief Registrar over the illegal transfer of the land.
Justice Oguttu Mboya certified the matter as urgent and directed the application to be heard inter partes on 26th September 2022.
“There be and is hereby granted an order of status quo over and in respect of LR. NO 209/12077, IR. NO.213652 pending the hearing of the subject application,” said Justice Mboya.
For clarity, the court said the suit property shall not be alienated, sold, and/or otherwise dealt with in any manner that may prejudice the substratum of the current application.
The respondents were directed to file and serve their respondents within seven days.
Wamunyoro Inv. whose Managing Director is Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua wants the court to stop the three from selling or interfering with the said land.
Through lawyer Philip Nyachoti, the petitioner argues that the land belongs to them and want thee court to quash the second title deed in the name of Columbus Two Thousand.
The suit land is now registered in the name of the name of Columbus Two.
“The plaintiff is justifiably apprehensive that unless this application is certified urgent and heard immediately by this court and the orders sought herein granted , the 2nd defendant (Columbus Two Thousand ltd) may at anytime now proceed to encroach, illegally takeover and deal with the suit property as it deems fit, dispose or transfer the suit property to unsuspecting third parties thereby complicating this dispute further to the detriment of the plaintiff thereby occasioning substantial damage and irreparable loss to the plaintiff hence the urgency of this application,” Wamunyoro added.
The property is currently charged as security at Equity Bank for financial facilities granted to the plaintiff in the aggregate of Sh 200 million.
According to Nyachoti, the company has always been the lawful owner of the said land.
The Environment and Lands Court heard that sometime on or around 19th December 2019, John Michael Ohas, Columbus Two Thousand ltd and Chief Land Registrar tampered and interfered with the official records in respect of the suit property at the Lands office and thereby fraudulently caused a second title to be generated and issued by the Chief Land Registrar in the name of Columbus Two Thousand without the petitioner’s knowledge.
It is alleged that as a result of Columbus fraud on the records of the suit property at the Lands office , tittle L.R. No. 209/12077 L.R. No.213652 (“the second title “) in respect of the suit property was irregularly and unlawfully issued to the Columbus Two Thousand ltd and Chief Land Registrar such that any official search on the suit property indicates that Columbus is the lawful registered owner of the suit property.
“The plaintiff does not feature anywhere as the registered owner after the records were tempered and interfered with,” Wamunyoro Investment added.
The company further adds that Michael Ohas took advantage of his official position at the ministry of lands and purported to allocate the suit property to Columbus Two Thousand ltd in which he is the managing director and subsequently tampered and interfered with the official documents and records in respect of the title on the suit property and in the end generated the second title fraudulently to the detriment of the Wamunyoro Investment ltd.
In his affidavit, Gachagua said that on 30th April 1999, Karandi Farm ltd , Peter Nduati Mbugua and Pauline Muringe (previous owners) were jointly allotted the aforesaid suit property for valuable consideration in the Sh 554,000 which was paid to the government.
Thereafter, a certificate of title was issued and they approached Wamunyoro Investment with an intention of selling the suit property.
The company carried its due diligence and was able to confirm or ascertain that the previous owner’s certificate of the title was genuine.
The company purchased the suit property for valuable for consideration from the previous owners of Sh 24 million and thereafter a transfer was effected in it’s favour and a title Deed issued.