Widow blames lawyer for delay in land case

The widow of a former provincial commissioner who has claimed ownership of a disputed Sh8 billion parcel of land in Karen has blamed a lawyer for failing to file her defence in the highly contested case.

Ms Carmelina Mburu, wife of Mr John Mburu, who at one time was Nairobi PC, lamented before Justice Lucy Nyambura that her lawyer, Mr Evans Ondieki, had failed her by not filing the necessary responses.

The widow, through another lawyer, Mr Albert Kuloba, pleaded with the judge to be allowed to file answers in the case filed by Mr Cecil Miller, representing Muchanga Investment Ltd, which says it is the bona fide owner of the 134-acre property.

Ms Mburu alleges that the land belonged to her husband and at no time did he transfer it to Muchanga.

Mr Kuloba said the 81-year-old widow’s claim adds a new twist to the land saga, which has sucked in politicians from the Jubilee and Cord sides as well.

But the application by Ms Mburu to adjourn the case to enable the defendant submit more documents was opposed by Mr Miller, who said: “Mr Ondieki made a technical appearance in court on February 9, greeted lawyers and walked, never to return.”

SCUTTLE THE HEARING

Mr Miller said the move by Ms Mburu was to scuttle the hearing of the case.
He said the case had been listed for hearing and that Mr Ondieki knew very well it was to be heard on Monday.

Another lawyer, Mr Steve Gakera, also opposed the request to adjourn the case, saying “all parties were ready to proceed with the hearing.” But Mr Kuloba urged the judge “not to visit the failure of Mr Ondieki on the widow”.

The court heard that Mr Ondieki was not even in the country.

The judge allowed the widow to put in written submissions and directed the case to be heard on March 18.

Former National Social Security Fund boss Jos Konzolo, the director of Telesource Ltd, which is also claiming ownership of the land, defended his acquisition of the property, saying, he followed due process.

“Before purchase, the company conducted due diligence and verified the documents,” said Mr Konzolo.

Mr Miller said the property was sold to his client by the bank, which was the executor of the will of Mr Arnold Bradley, who originally owned the land, which was later transferred to Muchanga.

“In December 1982, Barclays transferred the property to Muchanga at a sum of Sh1.2 million. They are, therefore, a necessary party in the suit as they will shed light into the acquisition of the land,” said Mr Miller.

The court dispute was instigated by businessman Horatius Da Gama Rose, through his company Muchanga, claiming that unknown companies had grabbed his farm and were subdividing it.

This article was published by the DAILY NATION on February 26, 2015

Widow wants lands agency in fraud case

A widow claiming the controversial 134-acre land in Karen, Nairobi wants the National Land Commission enjoined in the suit over allegations of fraud in the transfer of its title deed.

Ms Carmelina Mburu, widow of former Nairobi Provincial Commissioner John Mburu, wants commission to provide information showing the true owner of the land.

She also wants the Director of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate how the land was transferred from her husband to Muchanga Investment Limited.

“The commission scrutinised documents in the company’s possession which the widow believes are a forgery. DCI investigated the matter and we want it to table its report,” said her lawyer Evans Ondieki.

He said the transfer of the land valued at Sh8 billion to the company in 1983 was done without his client’s knowledge and that she has complained several times to the public trustee about invasion of her land but no action was taken.

SHED MORE LIGHT

Mr Ondieki said the ethics team and the director of criminal investigations could shed more light on the case having investigated the matter.

Muchanga Investment Limited director Horatius Da Gama Rose swore an additional affidavit to prove he acquired the land from Barclays Bank as the executors of the Will of the late settler Arnold Bradley who originally owned the land.

“The bank has confirmed it was the only one with capacity to transfer the land after the death of Mr Bradley and that the process of transferring the land was completed in 1983, the same year we were issued with the title,” said Mr Rose.

His lawyer Cecil Miller submitted that the response by Barclays confirmed they dealt with Mr Rose and that at no time did a Mr John Mugo Kamau assume possession of the land from Mr Bradley.

“Thus, it is not true that Mr Bradley transferred the land to Mr Kamau in 1978 when he died in 1973. The said transfer was obtained through fraud, is illegal and should be declared null and void,” he said.

GENUINE TITLE

He added that Mr Kamau had no genuine title to sell the land to Telesource Limited, a company owned by former National Social Security Fund boss Jos Konzolo.

Mr Konzolo swore that his company conducted a search and verified the title was legal before buying the land.

The dispute begun when Mr Rose sued Telesource Com Limited, Habenga Holdings, Jina Enterprises Ltd, Director of Survey, Director of Physical Planning, Ministry of Lands, Registrar of Titles and Chief Land Registrar for allegedly acquiring his land illegally.

Lady Justice Lucy Gacheru set the hearing on February 23. She at the same time extended orders barring any activity on the land.

This article was published by the Daily Nation on February 10.

Kenyans’ lawyer says UK not interested in settlement

U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has shown little interest in starting negotiations for a settlement with 20,000 elderly Kenyans suing the British government for alleged torture in the 1950s, a lawyer representing the Kenyans said Wednesday.

U.K. lawyer Freddie Cosgrove-Gibson said he was disappointed that justice was being delayed. Gibson, with law firm Tandem Law, said a suit was filed in 2013 and the hearing is scheduled to start May 5, 2016.

In London, the Foreign Office said it would not comment on the case because of ongoing legal proceedings.

Cosgrove-Gibson represents some 20,000 elderly Kenyans who are suing the British government for alleged torture during the British colonial rule of the country in the 1950′s, and Cosgrove-Gibson said Wednesday that his clients are elderly and he is disappointed that hearings will not start until 2016.

“Foreign Commonwealth Office is somehow delaying resolving justice for our clients and it is a matter that we continually raise,” Gibson said, adding that it’s important justice be served while the Kenyans are still alive. “We would hope over the coming months and before trial that they will take this on board and decide not to procrastinate and prolong this any longer than it is absolutely necessary.”

He said 40 victims have been chosen to represent the Kenyans at trial.

The Kenyans say they were beaten and sexually assaulted by officers acting for the British administration who were trying to suppress the “Mau Mau” rebellion. During the rebellion in the 1950s, groups of Kenyans attacked British officials and white farmers who had settled in some of Kenya’s most fertile lands during the British colonial rule of the country.

In 1952, then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared a state of emergency in the country and sent British soldiers to help colonial administrators capture the fighters and send them to detention camps. African soldiers under the King’s African Rifles regiment also took part in the assault on the Mau Mau and their supporters.

This is the second group of elderly Kenyan claiming restitution from the British government over the state of emergency period. In 2013 the British government paid out $21.5 million to a group of 5,200 Kenyans found to have been tortured during that period.

This article was published by the DAILY MAIL on January 22, 2015

Second UK Mau Mau case to start in 2016

The 40,000 Kenyans seeking damages from the British government for atrocities meted out on them during the colonial period will have to wait for at least a year before the case starts.

A High Court in London has ruled that the case will be heard over six-month period, starting May 5 to November, 2016.

In a press briefing yesterday, the victims’ lawyer Freddie Cosgrove-Gibson said the Mau Mau group decided to move to court after the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) expressed little interest in settling the matter out of court as it did with the previous group that was awarded about $211.5 million in 2013.

“It is disappointing that justice is being delayed for so long for the people of Kenya. FCO has shown no interest in starting any negotiations despite settling similar claims under the Leigh Day settlement two years ago,” Mr Cosgrove said.

In the proceedings, the court will take 25 individual cases as samples in determining the type of claims to register with the court.

Mr Cosgrove said the 25 will be selected randomly from 40 cases. Individuals selected will be informed and given an opportunity to give evidence before court.

Locally, the group is being represented by Miller and Co. Advocates.

Lawyer Cecil Miller said the firm is representing the victims free of charge, and no money would be claimed from them even if the case goes through. “We have been doing interviews across the country at no charges.

There are people claiming money for registration but for the people we have in our register, there is absolutely nothing that has been charged,” he said.

Mr Miller said his firm will push for a dialogue with the UK representative so as to have the case dealt with quickly as the victims are elderly.

“We hope the matter will be dealt with quickly,” he said. The case seeks to compel the British Government to pay for torture, forced labour and wrongful detention of Mau Mau members.

This article was published by THE STANDARD on January 22, 2015