Senior Lands Official testifies SH 1.5b disputed land belongs to DP Rigathi Gachagua

Gordon Odeka Ochieng, the director, land administration being sworn before giving his testimony. PHOTO/Suek

A senior official at the Ministry of lands has told court that embattled Sh 1.5 billion land in Embakasi belongs to Wamunyoro Investment Limited, a company associated with DP Rigathi Gachagua. 

Gordon Odeka Ochieng, the director of land administration at the ministry told Justice Joseph Mboya that Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s company holds the genuine title deed for the said land. 

While being led in his examination in chief by the Attorney General’s counsel Allan Kamau, Ochieng’ told the court that he has worked with the Ministry for the last 34 years and is well versed with the suit.

In his testimony, Ochieng’ told the court that the suit property which measures 2.00 Hectares was allocated for a term of 99 years.

He further testified that the allottee was to pay the amount stipulated in the letter within 30 days, failure to which the offer would be considered to have lapsed.

The court heard that Columbus Two thousand, a company associated with John Michael Ohas, a former director at the ministry of lands was issued with the allotment letter in february 1994.

“From the time when the letter of allotment was issued on 3rd February 1994, the allottee did not accept the offer nor did they make formal payment of the amounts stipulated in the letter of allotment until 7th May 1996 when they wrote to the Commissioner of Lands and accepted the offer of allotment,” the director testified. 

Reverted to the Government

It was alleged that this was more than two years after the offer had lapsed and the land had been reverted to the government. 

The court further heard that apart from accepting the offer, Columbus Two Thousand Limited also made partial payment amounting to Sh 50,000 from which payment an official receipt dated 16th May 1996 was issued by the Commissioner of lands.

On 30th April 1999, the suit property was then allocated to Karandi Farm Limited, Peter N. Mbugua and Pauline Muringe for a term of 99 years with effect from 1st May 1999. The same was to be paid for within a 30 days period.

“On 18th December 2002, Karandi Farm Limited, Peter N. Mbugua and Pauline Muringe made the necessary payments where an official receipt dated 18th December, 2002 was issued by the Commissioner of Lands,” Ochieng’ added.

Thereafter, a Deed Plan No.192966 in respect of the said land was presented to the Commissioner of Lands by the new allottees 

According to Ochieng’, a grant (Title) in respect of the suit property was later processed by the Commissioner of Lands and the said grant was registered at the Land Titles Registry at Nairobi on 31 December, 2002.

It was his testimony that the land was on 18th June 2012 transferred to M/S Wamunyoro Investments Limited.

He added that despite the fact that a grant to the suit property had earlier been processed and issued to Mbugua, Mulinge and Karandi Farms Limited in December 2002, the office of the Commissioner of Lands went ahead and processed another title to Columbus Two Thousand Limited on 19th December 2019.

“The act of registration of M/S Columbus Two Thousand Limited as Lessee should not have been undertaken as the property had already had previous commitment to Peter Nduati Mbugua, Pauline Muringe and Karandi Farm Limited and the same transferred to Wamunyoro Investment Limited,” Ochieng’ said.

John Michael Ohas

In November 2023, John Michael Ohas testified that he was the legitimate owner of the said land and paid the required amount in full through a cheque.

Ohas, 81, told the court that he was allocated the disputed land by late President Daniel Moi in 1994 with four other people before DP Gachagua through his company, Wamunyoro Investment Limited claimed ownership. 

He argued that there is no indication of withdrawal letter of the Commissioner of Lands in this case, nor re-gazettement for re-allocation or cancellation of the first allocation to the 2nd Defendant for the plot and who had developed the property by building the perimeter wall and gate.

According to Ohas, the Directors of Karandi farm Limited are Rigathi Gachagua, his wife Dorcas Gachagua and Peter Nduati and Pauline Mulinge who were just used as a ladder to assist in the land transfer from Karandi to Wamunyoro whose directors are Gachagua and his wife.

Ohas claimed that the letter of allotment for his company originated from the Government Printer, while the purported allotment letter for Karandi Farm was potentially a forgery since it does not indicate where it originated from, the author and the time it was printed.

“The allegation that the offer was not accepted and that it was reverted back is a baseless conclusion since the company (Columbus) did accept and made necessary payment thus binding on the Government and the Allottees and forms a proper public record for registration of the interest in the parcel.

It was his testimony that the purported allocation to Karandi Farm Limited, Peter Nduati and Pauline Mulinge was not based on any authority or proper valuation since if the property was valued as purported, the value in 1999 could easily be higher than it was in 1994.