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December 13, 2018

Title deeds issued in 2013 are legal, Kaimenyi says, asks Standard to apologise

A file photo of President Uhuru Kenyatta and then Lands CS Charity Ngilu issuing title deeds to Coast residents at Khadija grounds, August 31, 2013. /NOBERT ALLAN
A file photo of President Uhuru Kenyatta and then Lands CS Charity Ngilu issuing title deeds to Coast residents at Khadija grounds, August 31, 2013. /NOBERT ALLAN

Lands CS Jacob Kaimenyi has asked the Standard newspaper to apologise over a story published alleging documents issued by the ministry in 2013 are illegal.

He dismissed the claims saying the High Court had given the ministry a 12-month window to fine tune land laws in line with the 2016 Amendment Act.

"I wish to assure the public that contrary to what is reported in Standard newspaper of January 17, 2017 and other media, grants, leases and certificates of titles issued by the ministry after 2013 are legal, valid and legitimate," Kaimenyi said on Wednesday.

"[Standard] should unreservedly apologise for creating fear and doubt on land ownership documents processed since 2013," he said.

"Without doing so it is likely to erode investors confidence in our motherland," he added.

In 2015, Nairobi lawyer Anthony Otiende moved to court seeking to nullify regulations and forms for preparing leases that were promulgated by the then Lands CS Charity Ngilu.

High Court judge Joseph Onguto ruled that the Ministry of Lands proceeded to prepare lease documents in violation of the law governing land matters by ignoring the input of the National Land Commission.

The judge also ruled that the documents had not been subjected to public participation or Parliament for scrutiny and approval.

More on this: Cord leaders fault Uhuru, Ruto on Coast title deeds

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But Onguto had given the ministry a window of 12 months to correct the anomalies, saying the declaration of invalidity was not to be operated retroactively.

Onguto had also ordered Kaimenyi to engage NLC, the public and Parliament.

The judge said the 12 months window had taken effect from December 19, 2016 and failure to effect his orders will make the documents stand annulled.

The Deputy Registrar of the High Court certified the orders on January 12, 2017.

Kaimenyi said he has already appointed a task force after consulting NLC to come up with regulations within two months for onward transmission to Parliament.

"I have on January 9, 2017 Vide Gazette notice number 390,Vol CXIX No 6 of January 2017 appointed a task force to carry out the said exercise with strict instructions to complete the exercise within two months," Kaimenyi said.

He was accompanied by PS Mariam el Maawy, NLC chair Mohammed Swazuri, CEO Tom Chavangi, among other senior ministry officials.

The task force is composed of members drawn from the Lands ministry, NLC, Kenya Law Reforms Commission, and the Attorney General's office.

Others are the Institution of Surveyors, the Nairobi county government and the Law Society of Kenya.

Kaimenyi said the ministry will continue rendering services in regard to land transactions within 12 months granted by court and before completion of the exercise of formulating regulations and forms as ordered by the High Court.

Parliament is yet to approve regulations as stipulated by land laws.

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