Land court rules against auctioneer, company behind Westlands demolition

Zacharia Baraza at Milimani Law Courts at a past date where the police sought orders to detain him for 14 days to complete investigations into the destruction of a multi-million home in Westlands. Photo/Sam Alfan

The Environment and Land Court has dismissed an application by the auctioneer and company behind the illegal demolition of a house in Westlands, Nairobi challenging its jurisdiction to convict and sentence him for contempt of court.

Justice Oscar Angote ruled that the preliminary objection by Zachariah Baraza of Siuma Auctioneers and Lariak Properties Limited lacked merit.

The judge added that the ELC has powers over the lower court dealing with land matters.

“In the circumstances, the court finds no merit in the preliminary objections dated 16th November and 17th November 2022. The preliminary objections are dismissed with no order as to costs, Justice Angote ruled.

The judge further ruled that the court acted lawfully when it convicted the auctioneer who purported to execute the orders of the lower court which led to demolition of a Sh 20 million house in Westlands.

Baraza and the directors of Lariak Properties are currently facing robbery with violence charges over the unlawful eviction and demolition.

The company had contracted Baraza to evict the tenants of the said property. The court heard that Baraza showed up at the premises in company of about 25 people who demolished the house and took away items valued at Sh 18 million without a court order.

In his ruling, Justice Angote said that the court will not condone deliberate disobedience of its orders and will not shy away from its responsibility to deal firmly with proven contemnors. 

“It is the plain and unqualified obligation of every person against or in respect of whom an order is made by the court of competent jurisdiction to obey it unless and until that order is discharged,” he added.

According to the judge, it is essential for the maintenance of the rule of law and order that the authority and the dignity of a court is upheld at all times.

“The dignity and authority of the court must be protected, and that is why those who flagrantly disobey the court orders must be punished, lest they lead us all to a state of anarchy,” the judge ruled.