Big win as Omtatah recovers 843-acre public land in Busia
Nancy Gitonga and Henry Andanje
Activist Okiya Omtatah has successfully reclaimed 843 acres of public land that had been irregularly allocated to Busia Sugar Company (BSC), which is currently under receivership.
“The title deed issued to the company is revoked and reverts back to the acquiring government ministry for the purposes of establishing a sugar factory for the economic benefit of Busia sugar farmers and the public,” ruled Justice Samuel Mukunya of the Environment and Land Court in Bungoma.
Last week, the Lands court put to rest the eight-year legal battle on the ownership of the Nasewa land.
Omtatah had moved to court seeking an injunction restraining the company from interfering with the ownership or title of Nasewa Nucleus Estate through a grant of title, possession and use.
The activist disclosed on Twitter on Friday that it took him more than eight years of advocacy and litigation to recover the land. He said the Busia land registrar cancelled the title deed fraudulently issued to the company and issued a new one in the name of the Treasury PS, who is the custodian of all assets of the National government.
On Friday, Omtatah handed the new title deed back to the government through the Busia County Commissioner.
“The new title deed has been dispatched to the Lands PS, who in turn will submit it to the Treasury counterpart to hold it in trust for Kenyans,” he said.
In his ruling, Justice Mukunya declared that BSC was a private limited company with shareholders being the government, MH Da Gama Rose—the representative of Booker Tate in Kenya and Reliant Holdings Ltd.
“It is, therefore, my view that the suit land should revert to the acquiring government ministry so as to achieve the initial objective of acquisition to build a sugar factory for the public benefit and to protect the public interests,” he said.
It is said the government had acquired the land from Nasewa residents in the 1990s and handed it over to BSC to construct a factory, which was never set up and only existed on paper. BSC was later put under receivership, with Mumias Sugar claiming the land on grounds the miller owed it money.
Reverting of the title to the National government comes even as Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong gave Chinese investors the green light to construct an agricultural industrial park on the property.