Firms claim Sh141bn for GSU land in Ruaraka

The battle for the piece of land on which the General Service Unit’s (GSU) headquarters in Nairobi stands has taken a new turn with the filing of a fresh Sh141 billion suit against the government.  

Nairobi firms Afrison Import and Export and Huelands Limited are demanding the colossal amount as compensation for the 58.6 acres of land adjoined to the 37.4 acres that the GSU occupies along the Thika Superhighway.

Afrison and Huelands’ claim comes barely three years after the High Court awarded them Sh4.2 billion for the 37.4 acres on which the GSU headquarters stands.

The petitioners now claim that the GSU has denied them access to the entire 96 acres since 1988 – causing them economic harm for which they are seeking the Sh141 billion compensation.

Suit papers accuse the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government of altering records at City Hall to indicate that the GSU has paid land rates for the entire 96 acres as a basis of taking ownership of the land.

Afrison and Huelands are demanding S2.7 billion for the land, Sh24 billion for rent they would have earned, Sh79.8 billion interest on land rent and Sh4.7 billion in penalties.

“From 1988 the petitioners were unable to access and were in fact brutally ejected from the said land for alleged security reasons. The ministry altered records with the Nairobi City County with the intent that rate demand notices were directed to it. Demand notices and intention to sue have been issued to the respondent but the said respondent has refused to make good the petitioners’ loss,” the firms say.

Afrison and Huelands have sued Attorney-General Githu Muigai on behalf of the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government. Prof Muigai is yet to respond to the suit.

READ: City tycoon to get Sh600m in GSU land dispute

After losing the 2012 case, the government negotiated Afrison and Huelands’ award to Sh2.4 billion. The National Treasury has, however, delayed paying the sum, and only released two instalments of Sh600 million and Sh400 million in January and July respectively.

Finance minister Henry Rotich also approved another Sh1.2 billion in the financial year ending 2014.

The State had claimed that it bought 196 housing units constructed on 17.8 acres in 1988 from the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC) at a cost of Sh64 million.

Justice Alfred Mabeya however ruled that Afrison and Huelands had shown sufficient proof of ownership and awarded them Sh4.2 billion.

A fight has since ensued between the two companies and a law firm they hired to distribute the Sh400 million July instalments to two individuals and a company.

Afrison and Huelands had planned to use the funds to pay a group of individuals and companies “for services rendered,” including former president Mwai Kibaki’s son, Jimmy.

They, however, claim that the law firm, Mahmoud and Gitau, tried to sneak unauthorised individuals into the list of beneficiaries and consequently sued to stop the move.

Justice Francis Gikonyo in September granted a request to quash instructions the two firms had issued to Mahmoud and Gitau regarding distribution of the cash.

Geoffrey Mutisya Mbili, a director in both firms, says Afrison and Huelands bought the land from another company -Joreth Limited- in 1981 and only enjoyed it for seven years before the GSU allegedly grabbed it.

He adds that the GSU has subdivided the land and produced separate title deeds for the plots before completing payments for the land.

A report compiled by Camp Valuers as evidence states that the 96 acres Afrison and Huelands want compensation for is ripe for immediate development.

It goes ahead to recommend the land for development of multi-storey buildings for both commercial and residential purposes be put up.

“The petitioners would have had use of and derived great benefit from the lawful utilisation of their property were it not for the offending trespass and illegal occupation. The Ministry of Interior held itself out as the owner and occupant of Afrison and Huelands’ property,” the firms add.

Mr Mbili says the firms started their protests against their eviction from the land during former president Daniel Moi’s reign, but that the authorities at the time used their political influence to sweep Afrison and Huelands’ protests under the rug.

“The petitioners, within the limited means then available pleaded with the State to either desist from the illegal occupation of the petitioners’ land or in the alternative make an offer for recompense as required under the applicable laws,” he holds.

Auditor- General Edward Ouko in July called for the arrest of Kanu-era officials for alleged impropriety in acquiring the land for the GSU.

The GSU initially took occupation of 17.8 acres then later hived off 19.6 acres.

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY