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Busia Judge Boaz Olao calls out ‘fraudster’ who sold land and later sued to recover it

A High Court judge has caused an online stir after declaring a litigant who sued two people he had sold land to, seeking to recover the same land, as a perfect example of greedy fraudsters seeking justice in courts.

“If the list of shame containing the names of fraudsters who, propelled by unbridled greed, have walked through the gates of Busia Court purporting to seek justice is finally prepared, it will certainly contain the name of Jifnal Omailo Omonding,” stated Justice Boaz Olao.

“I would advise him to ensure his children and grandchildren do not access this judgment.”

Justice Olao made the sentiments in the opening of a judgment he delivered at the Busia High Court’s Environment and Land Court on November 23, 2023.

Omonding had sued Melenia Orupia and Florensio Opilio demanding back the land he claimed they fraudulently acquired.

He was seeking an order declaring that the registration of the two as the owners of the disputed land was fraudulent, illegal, unlawful hence null and void.

Omonding sought multiple orders against Orupia and Opilio including an order for the eviction of the two, their families, agents, and servants from the land.

He had also asked the court to issue a permanent injunction restraining the two from interfering with the land parcel number South Teso/Apokor/590.

The litigant had also sought compensation for “loss incurred” by not using the land during the period of more than 20 years it was occupied by the defendants (Orupia and Opilio).

He had claimed to be the administrator of the land after its original owner died, and the actions of Orupia and Opilio of registering themselves as the proprietors of the said land were fraudulent.

Omonding accused the two of dealing with a deceased’s land, making false documents to procure a transfer of land from the deceased’s name among others.

However, it emerged that Omonding had sold the land measuring three acres to Orupia’s husband at Sh33,000 on July 17, 1995.

Omonding had been injured in his eye and needed money for emergency treatment, opting to sell the land. He was given Sh15,000 on the same day and the remaining amount was paid later.

Opilio bought the remaining part of the land measuring two acres at Sh37, 000 in the presence of a village elder and other witnesses. Omonding took both women to the Land Control Board offices on July 7, 1998, where they obtained the consent to transfer the land to themselves.

The two later partitioned the land and lived on it until 2019 when Omonding went to court and sued them claiming the same land.

Justice Olao noted that there was evidence of an independent witness – James Elungata who told the court that he witnessed the same agreement between Omonding and the two women in 1997 which they went on to occupy and later partitioned.

The judge also noted that Omonding did not deny receiving the Sh33,000 and the Sh37,000 from Orupia and Opilio respectively.

The area Assistant Commissioner Lentente Saiteyu had produced the minutes of a meeting at the Amukura Land Control Board on September 3, 1998, which indicated that it was Omonding who sought consent to transfer the land to the two women he had later sued.

Justice Olao said he noted that Omonding did not challenge the authenticity of the documents tabled by Saiteyu or cite ill motive.

The judge highlighted the findings of a magistrate who had heard the case a few years earlier and had noted that Omonding was implicated in land transactions with the two he later sued.

The magistrate had stated that Omonding failed to reveal the material fact to the court yet the land had already been subdivided in his full knowledge.

“Clearly, the plaintiff’s (Omondings’) dalliance with dishonesty appears not to have started I this case. He cannot now complain about fraudulent conduct which he himself not only facilitated but also benefited financially therefrom. The doctrine of equitable estoppel will certainly come to the aid of the defendants (Orupia and Opilio) rather than the plaintiff (Omonding)”, Justice Olao ruled.

The judge dismissed Omonding’s suit and ordered him to pay the two defendants the cost of the case.

Justice Olao in March 2021, then based at the High Court in Eldoret, made similarly controversial sentiments where he warned widows in Eldoret to be wary of a man who was preying on the lonely women before taking over their wealth.

“What widows need most in their time of distress is a helper who can shower them with love and offer support not deceitful and thieving men whose main goal is to strike at vulnerable widows,” he stated.

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