DP Ruto’s name dragged in Upper Hill land dispute
A lawyer seeking court intervention to recover a prime piece of land sold in controversial circumstances has dragged in the name of Deputy President William Ruto.
The land on Upper Hill area of Nairobi was sold to Amaco Insurance MD Silas Simatwo despite a court order barring any transaction on the property.
The three-quarter-acre plot belonged to the estate of a former Commissioner of Prisons Andrew Saikwa but was allegedly sold to Vomorono Ltd, a company owned by Mr Simatwo and his wife Catherine Chepchumba.
Mr John Mtay is alleged to have disposed of the land without the consent of his siblings, Ms Esther Chepkemoi and Mr Moses Kiplangat.
The property is part of a succession suit whose proceedings are ongoing at the Family Division of the High Court.
In the latest development, the lawyer acting for Mr Kiplangat, Mr Burton Isindu, has written to Mr Simatwo’s lawyers, Sang and Langat Advocates, protesting against his conduct. The letter is copied to the registrar of the High Court Family and Environment and Land Division.
Mr Isindu says in a three-page letter to the law firm that he was being threatened and intimidated by various individuals claiming to be acting for or on behalf of Vomorono Ltd and the Deputy President.
“We have carefully and elaborately demonstrated to you and affidavits filed in court how the transaction that led to the transfer of the property to your client was vitiated by irregularities, illegalities and blatant fraud,” says Mr Isindu.
The lawyer further complains that despite the irregularities, Mr Simatwo had continued to perpetuate the flawed process in the acquisition of the land “to defeat the course of justice and deprive the Saikwa family, particularly Mr Kiplangat, his inheritance”.
THREATS ON PHONE
“These individuals have been calling using concealed numbers and issuing threats to me and Mr Kiplangat to quote and accept to be paid our fees and keep off,” says the lawyer.
Mr Isindu states that all his client was pursuing was a fair share of the market value of his late father’s property and “it would be unconscionable for anyone to deprive him of the same, let alone making his advocate a target of threats, pressure or intimidation”.
Court documents show that the property, with an estimated market value of Sh500 million, was sold to Vomorono Ltd on December 31, 2013 for Sh200 million. However, a court order had been issued on August 22, 2013 stopping the sale or transfer of the land.
Before the alleged sale, Ms Chepkemoi, through her firm Talai Holdings, had filed a suit against her brother Mr Mtay, the Registrar of Titles, Commissioner of Lands and the Attorney-General on July 2013 and obtained interim orders blocking the sale of the property. She told Justice William Musyoka that the asset belonged to her and was not available for alienation.
“Upon reading the supporting affidavit of Esther Chepkemoi sworn on August 16, 2013, I hereby restrain the respondents from selling, transferring, alienating or dealing with LR 209/8558 until the case is heard and determined,” Justice Musyoka ruled.
Mr Mtay and his brother Kiplangat had, in turn, accused their sister of fraudulently transferring the family asset to her company without their consent.
Consequently, Ms Chepkemoi was charged in a city court with forging title documents and faced a separate civil suit for the alleged fraudulent transfer of the plot.
Questions have also been raised on why Land ministry officials sanctioned the transfer of the plot to the company associated with the Amaco boss despite a court order stopping any transaction relating to the property pending the conclusion of the case.
Mr Kiplangat has sworn an affidavit saying the property belonged to his late father’s estate but complained that his brother had “mischievously” schemed to sell it for his own selfish gain.
On April 9, 2014, Justice Musyoka issued further orders stopping the transfer of the land until a ruling pending in court was delivered.
After Mr Saikwa died in June 1985, his wife Grace Cheptay and son Mr Mtay were appointed administrators of the estate. Mr Mtay became the sole representative of the estate after his mother died in November 2006.
Mr Saikwa served as the prisons boss under the founding President Jomo Kenyatta.