The National Land Commission (NLC) is facing major backlash after paying Ksh1.5 billion to businesswoman Ms Rosaline Njeri Macharia who allegedly owns the piece of land where City Cabanas restaurant sits, despite a court order stopping the same.
The money was paid on behalf of the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) for the acquisition of the land, which will be used in the construction of the Nairobi Expressway.
According to documents in our possession, another company, Simandi Investments Ltd, has been claiming ownership of the land.
Simandi is owned by Mr Simon Ondiba, who says that they bought the land LR NO 209/11293/1 from the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KNCCI) in 1994.
Ms Macharia, who received the compensation on March 1, also claims to have bought the land from KNCCI.
The first injunction was issued by High Court Judge Samson Okong’o on December 21, 2020, preventing NLC from making any payments until the dispute between Ms Macharia and Simand was determined.
Another order was given on February 2 by the High Court, stopping NLC from releasing any compensation until March 4, when a ruling would be made on the application for injunction.
The order of February 2 was made 10 days after NLC received Ksh2.3 billion from KeNHA for compensation of landowners whose lands were to be acquired by the government for the construction of the Nairobi Expressway Road.
On March 1, NLC, despite a court order, transferred Ksh1,647,277,792 to Ms Macharia’s bank accounts on account of the acquisition of the 4.0523 hectares of City Cabanas restaurant land and Cabanas Park (Ksh273,475,167).
The money was transferred to her three accounts, one at Equity Bank (Ksh1 billion), KCB (Ksh522.3 million) and Guardian Bank (Ksh25 million)
When the two parties appeared in court for the ruling, neither Ms Macharia nor NLC disclosed that the money had already been disbursed.
Instead, they patiently waited for the ruling, with the judge allowing NLC to pay Ms Macharia half the amount, and retain the remaining amount until the case was heard and determined.
Documents acquired by Kahawa Tungu show that the land was originally allocated to KNCCI in 1988, before being transferred to new owners between 1994 and 1995.
Mr Ondiba says he bought the land on July 19, 1994 through Mwanyambori Investments from KNCCI for Ksh60 million. The transaction and transfer effected on September 8, 1994.
On the other hand, Ms Macharia says she bought the land for Ksh45 million, with an informal transfer being effected on December 22, 1994. She says she has occupied and developed the land without any dispute since 1995 to 2016.
However, according to a letter from KNCCI to NLC dated July, 26, 2016, no such transfer happened for Ms Macharia.
“That the Chamber is and was never Involved in the purported land transfer to ROSELINE NJERI MACHARIA dated 22nd December 1994 and purportedly executed by our former officials,” the letter read in part.
According to Ms Macharia, NLC tried to change ownership of the land in 2016, which triggered the ownership row.
However, in a letter dated July 13, 2016 by former NLC chair Mohammed Swazuri, the land did not belong to Ms Macharia and she had occupied it illegally.
“Our investigations have confirmed that the said land actually belongs to other people, who now wand to access their land for re-establishment. Our efforts to have Roseline submit her ownership documents to us have not succeeded,” said Swazuri.
Mr Ondiba now wants all Ms Macharia’s accounts frozen until the matter is heard and determined.
“I just want the matter Investigated speedily and establish the circumstances under which the said money left NLC and the KeNHA and why the money was staggered to the various banks. And my case is still pending In court and if the said money is spent I will suffer irreparable loss. I request the Commission in its powers to freeze all the said accounts and pursue some of the beneficiaries after the said payout,” says Mr Ondiba in court documents.
Mr Ondiba moved to court on April 18, after learning that the payments had already been made.
In a crisis meeting held yesterday by NLC, it has emerged that Ms Macharia had not been listed among 40 private firms and government parastatals to be compensated in the project.
The court has already initiated contempt proceedings against the NLC chairman Gerishon Otachi and chief executive officer Kabale Tache for the payment.