On the morning of December 4, 2016, armed men descended on the property hitherto owned by an Asian family in Westland’s, Nairobi, prompting a national outcry on what had become a culture of grabbing plots whose leases had come to an end.
The owners of the plot had purchased it in 1972 and its lease ended in 2003.
In 2007, the couple – Nazmudin Kurji and Sadrudin Kurji – initiated the process of renewal of the lease as per the law.
In mid-2016 the Frank Logistics Limited, whose directors are Judy Muthoni Ngugi and Francis Nyaga, started making threatening calls to the Kurji’s demanding that they vacate the land which culminated in the December attacks.
The Kurji’s had reported the matter to National Land Commission, which had issued orders barring any interference with the property until the matter was completed, but these orders meant little to Frank Logistics.
This week after a lengthy hearing the commission rendered its decision in favour of Kurjis but also exposed the extent the Frank Logistics had gone to acquire the land and property.
The company had submitted various statutory documents which they averred had been issued by various government institutions including Director of Surveys, Commissioner of Lands, Ministry of Land, City County Government and Registrar of Companies all purportedly showing that the land in question was theirs.
In its submissions Frank Logistics denied that it was involved in the demolition of the property on the Sunday of December 2016.
“Titus Ochichi Advocate, for Frank Logistics Limited, submitted that his client (Frank Logistics) was issued a Letter of Allotment dated January 6, 2009, signed by Onyino Mukobe for the Commissioner of Lands,” reads the determination.
He further submitted that Frank Logistics was not aware of any existing previous allocation and/or occupants of the property when they applied for the allocation.
“Asked whether he complained of any forced invasion of the property to relevant authorities, Counsel did not produce any evidence. Counsel was informed that there existed a house before Frank Logistics Limited applied for allocation of the parcel of land in dispute,” noted NLC chairperson Prof Mohamed Swazuri in the ruling.
In their testimonies several witnesses from various government institutions distanced themselves from the alleged statutory documents released by the Frank Logistics.
Mr Benson Okumu, Licensed Surveyor disowned the deed plans submitted by the company. He said the survey plan contained wrong numbers and did not seem to have gone through all steps needed to make it authentic.
Mr Onyino Mukobe, a Land Officer with National Land Commission, said he did not prepare the lease document as alleged in favour of Frank Logistics because he had already been transferred to Kisumu and, therefore, not authorised to sign Nairobi leases.
He also did not sign the letter of allotment in favour of Frank Logistics. He concluded that the letter of allotment presented by the company is a forgery.
Mr Peter Njoroge of Survey of Kenya noted that the deed plans submitted by the company were a forgery with a fake signature purporting to be his, adding they had been signed on a Mashujaa Day, which is a public holiday.
Mr Charles Ng’etich, a Registrar of titles with Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, stated that the signature appearing on the title presented was not his signature and that a copy of certificate of title in the name of Frank Logistics Limited has been forwarded to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for investigation purposes.
He said the Ministry of Lands have no record of receipt of any document for Frank Logistics Limited in respect of the properties in issue.
Mr Dominic Muthegi from City County of Nairobi, Urban Planning Department, said his office did not authorise demolition of the property on the material day.
The complainant, Mr Nazmurdin Kurji, testified that he had purchased the property L.R 1870/1/337 about 42 years ago from M.H Corporation and it has been his home since then.
The lease in respect of the property expired in the year 2003. He made an application for extension of the lease for the property in 2007 and surrendered the original title.
He testified that he realised that people were interested in his property when he started receiving threats. Adjacent to his property was that of his late brother who died in 2009.
Mr Mwaniki Gitau, advocate for the Estate of Sadrudin Habib Kassam Kurji (Deceased) took through the commission on ownership of the property since 1971.
In its determination the commission directed Directorate of Criminal Investigations to commence investigations and recommend prosecution of the perpetrators who demolished the property and also those who processed the fake documents.
The commission also directed that demolished property should be reinstated by the perpetrators who demolished the same.
The NLC directed its officials to immediately process the renewal of lease in accordance with pre-emptory rights enjoyed by the complainants.
Con men take advantage of loophole in law to take over property whose leases have expired.