EACC wins landmark Sh700m case against former commissioner

Thursday, December 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Cash. Photo/File

Former Lands Commissioner Wilson Gachanja was yesterday found guilty of aiding theft of government land.

A Nairobi court indicted Gachanja for presiding over theft of a Sh700 million land belonging to Kenya School of Law (KSL) in 1997 by facilitating its transfer to private developers.

The judgment follows another one last month, in which he was ordered to pay a Sh1 million fine for facilitating the illegal transfer of a prime land owned by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in Mtwapa in Kilifi county.

 In the latest ruling, Gachanja was accused by the Ethics and Antic Corruption Commission (EACC) of facilitating the transfer of land located along Bishops Road, Nairobi reserved as the official residence of the Principal, KSL. 

Null and void

Yesterday, Justice Bernard Eboso issued an order that the letter of allotment dated November 3, 1997 and grant issued to Rockville Limited as well as the transfer of the land, was null and void and directed that it be cancelled.

 Further, the Chief Lands Registrar was ordered by the High Court to cancel the said entries, and register the suit property in the name of the National Treasury Principal Secretary , which is the custodian of assets belonging to the national government.

 Gachanja, Wilson Kipkoti, Rockville and Standard Assurance Kenya were respondents in the case.

 EACC, according to the Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak, received a report alleging that Leonard Njagi, a former Principal at KSL, acted in concert with directors of Rockville Limited to fraudulently acquire public land and buildings on the suit land.

 After investigations, EACC, established that despite the property having already been allocated to East African Common Services Authority, a survey was conducted in 1997, letters of allotment issued and title in respect of parcel L.R. No. 209/6238 illegally processed in favour of Rockville Limited.

 The commission instituted a civil suit to recover the public property in ELC Number 5 of 2018 EACC vs Wilson Gachanja, Rockville Limited, Kipkoti and the insurance firm.

 “EACC argued that the parcel, having been reserved for public use, was never available for allocation and/or alienation to third parties.

Further, the transfer of public land L.R. No. 209/6238 to private ownership by Rockville Limited was irregular, as requisite legal procedures for such alienation had not been followed,” Twalib said yesterday in a statement after the ruling was delivered.

 Last month, a Mombasa court ordered Gachanja to pay Sh1 million fine for facilitating fraudulent transfer of a piece of land belonging to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in Mtwapa, Kilifi to its employee 25 years ago. 

EACC had sued Gachanja, Frann Investments Limited, Wahome, Ann Gathoni, Victor Wahome, Edward Kagume and David Mwangi and asked the court to cancel the transfer and subdivisions and have the land reverted to the original owner, prayers that the court has granted them.

The land, according to EACC, was reserved, planned and used, as a customs watchtower and guard house, of the then Department of Customs, and was not available for alienation as it was not “unalienated government land”.

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