State to recover Sh1.3b Kalro land

Friday, July 1st, 2022 01:20 | By
Justice Mwangi Njoroge. Barred Pineapples Edge and Trojan Nominees from interfering with the land. PD/file
Justice Mwangi Njoroge. Barred Pineapples Edge and Trojan Nominees from interfering with the land. PD/file

The State has started the process of recovering a Sh1.3 billion piece of land reserved for the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) in Naivasha, which was grabbed by private developers 26 years ago.

Papers filed in court state that the 439 acres of land, strategically facing Lake Naivasha, was grabbed by close associates of late President Daniel Arap Moi during his reign. It had been reserved for a Veterinary Quarantine Farm, the only such station nationally for breeding livestock for export and import and breeding indigenous chicken.

Transferred again

It was also to be a lucerne research and multiplication centre for Sahiwal cattle. But Pineapples Edge company acquired it fraudulently and later transferred it to Trojan Nominees Ltd which is owned by a lawyer and his family.

Yesterday, a High Court sitting in Nakuru Town, through Justice Mwangi Njoroge, barred Pineapples Edge and Trojan Nominees and their agents from interfering with the property dubbed Naivasha Municipality block 5/289, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has been investigating the land with a view to having it returned to public use.

After it changed hands, the property was turned into a breeding hub for indigenous chickens, with infrastructures such as poultry pens, offices, dips, irrigation and residential facilities.

It had government installations such as livestock research structures, staff houses, water tanks and a robust underground water reticulation system, some of which have been vandalised.

The anti-graft agency also wants to prosecute Pineapples Edge and the owners of  Trojan Nominees — Susan Nyambura, John Wachira, Dora Kabura, Bertha Karugari, Chris Wambugu and a General Wachira. On the list, too, is former Commissioner of Land Wilson Gachanja, listed as a defendant in the suit.

The commission believes Gachanja played a key role in the illegal allocation.

“The commission, through the South Rift regional office, commenced investigations into allegations of irregular alienation and acquisition of public land reserved for Karlo in Naivasha. This was through a complaint that was referred for investigation by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, vide a letter Ref No. ODDP/CAM/ 2/ 657 dated August 5, 2015, relating to grabbing of research land in Naivasha,” states EACC.

The expansive property situated on Naivasha-Maai Mahiu Road, a few kilometres from Naivasha Town, according to EACC, through one of its investigative officer Julius Simotwo’s sworn affidavits, is part of the land belonging to the quarantine farm. It measures approximately 2,578 acres set aside for public use as a stock farm.

The land had remained under the veterinary department, which transitioned to Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari), the precursor of Karlo.

It remained un-surveyed until August 20, 1984, when the Kari director engaged surveyor James Kamwere Muriuki for this work. After the survey, Kamwere identified four portions, among them parcel 230 measuring about 216 acres, 231 (two acres for a tree nursery), parcel 232 (19.7 acres for a fisheries unit) and parcel 233 (195 acres for a road reserve).

However, on April 6, 1995, the parcels of land were allocated to other parties, with parcel 230 issued to Pineapples Edge.

On August 15, 1995, Gachanja, who is facing a litany of court cases related to the theft of public land, irregularly allocated this land, together with parcel 233, to Settlement Fund Trustees, which through a letter dated December 21, 1995, presented a banker’s cheque of Sh7,060 as allotment fees.

Further, on January 17, 1996, Gachanja, “illegally and irregularly” transferred the properties to Pineapples Edge, through a letter to the director of settlement and land adjudication.

“Investigations further revealed that on January 17, 1996, the respondents herein conspired and illegally surveyed the Quarantine Farm vide FR No 298/133, where they irregularly sub-divided the parcels identified in the survey as Fr270/13 to raise parcels 231 measuring two acres, 285 (214 acres), 286 (61 acres), 289 (101 acres),  290 (29 acres) and 291 (28 acres),” reads the courts papers.

EACC says the plan also amalgamated parcels 230, 232 and 233 to form No 289 measuring a total of 439 acres.

After a survey, the 439 acres were allocated and transferred to Settlement Fund Trustee on June 13, 1996, with the intention of transferring it to Pineapples Edge, a move that was effected on April 28, 1997.

Eight months later, Pineapples Edge transferred the land to Trojan Nominees who were registered as owners on December 17, 1996.

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