Court stops 12 businessmen from settling, using Busia airstrip land

Friday, October 15th, 2021 00:00 | By
Activist Okiya Omtatah. PHOTO/Courtesy
Activist Okiya Omtatah. PHOTO/Courtesy

A High Court in Busia yesterday stopped 12 businessmen from occupying, developing, converting or using Busia Airstrip land pending the hearing of a suit filed by activist Okiya Omtatah.

Justice Anne Omollo suspended the hearing and determination of Busia ELC Civil Case which deals with the same parcel of land.

Omtatah filed the suit arguing that the rights of Kenyans have been gravely compromised and violated through the illegal and unconstitutional acts of the businessmen regarding the ownership by the public of Busia airstrip land.

The businessmen are James Kuria Wairagu, Joseph Ndung’u, Millicent Mulicah Wakonyo, Mary Wanjiru Joseph, Samwel Ndungu, Johnson Kimari, Stephen Kanjuru, Teresa Maina, Esther Githakwa, Partrick Githakwa and Joseph Githakwa.

He noted that an entity which does not identify itself placed an advert in the Daily Nation of Friday, 21st March 2021, putting Busia Airstrip land on sale.

Omtatah further argued that part of Busia Airstrip land, the subject matter in the petition, is the suit property in Busia ELC Civil Case No 32 of 2013 which was mentioned in court on 6th June 2021.

According to Omtatah, he carried out extensive research which brought to the fore holistic historical information on the ownership of the suit land by the public which information was lacking in Busia Civil Case No. 32 of 2013 yet it was critical for the just determination of the dispute.

“There is absolutely no way that the dispute in Busia Civil Case No. 32 of 2013 or any other dispute concerning the ownership of Busia Airstrip land in its entirety, or of any part thereof, can be determined justly on merits without the involvement of some of the respondents,” he said in court documents.

The County Government of Busia supported Omtatah’s petition arguing that granting orders to Omtatah’s application, the Court will have the opportunity to alleviate an imminent multiplicity of vexatious suits.

The Respondents, however, pleaded that their titles were legally acquired and proceeded to annex copies of their titles and also annexed the Hansard that discussed the matter at hand and which according to them confirmed the authencity of their title deeds.

The Judge, however, in her ruling noted on the face of the Hansard, the then Minister for Land acknowledged the existence of the Busia Airstrip as well as the titles belonging to the respondents.

“He further acknowledged a possibility of encroachment. The discussion of that day pointed out issues which can only be resolved by giving a hearing to both parties which were not part of those proceedings,” she ruled.

The noted that the proposition that the respondents were innocent purchasers therefore protected by dint of section 14(1) of National Land Commission Act was a question of fact and would be dealt with during the trial of the main petition.

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