A dispute over the ownership of a Sh500 million land is threatening to tear apart the Anglican Church of Kenya, Nairobi Diocese.
The diocese, headed by Bishop Joel Waweru, is embroiled in an ugly fight with St Mark’s ACK Church, Westlands, over the prime property along School Lane, Westlands.
Some church members have accused the bishop and the diocese of planning to push them out of the plot — LR No. 1870/111/159. They claim it belongs to the parish.
They said the church bought the property in 1964 for Sh100,000 and registered it in the name of the Church Commission for Kenya as trustees of the ACK church.
Waweru did not respond to our text message. When contacted two hours later, he said he was presiding over a church service.
The worshippers have petitioned ACK Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, seeking his intervention to secure back the property.
The petition, dated January 31, is signed by Fredrick Waweru, Sarah Maina, Scholastica Kweya and Miriam Atolim. The church members say the bishop and the diocese are in the process of securing a loan to develop the property.
“The bishop of the diocese of Nairobi has laid a claim to the St Mark’s property on the basis that all land belonging to the church within the geographical boundaries of Nairobi diocese belongs to him as the bishop,” the petition reads.
“We believe this thinking and assertions are fallacious from the standpoint of the laws of Kenya and the trusteeship arrangements of the CCK and practice of the ACK.”
The petitioners say the parish received rental income from the property until 2012, when the diocese requested to be allowed to carry out activities on the agreement that they would pay rent.
The church has demanded monthly rent of Sh350,000, but the diocese maintained it would only pay Sh200,000. Through this, they said, the church is owed more than Sh9 million in outstanding rent.
They claimed the diocese has also declined to sign rental lease, despite an earlier agreement and instead laid claim to the land.
They said the bishop and the diocese have been exerting pressure on the church to enter into a joint venture with other undisclosed partners to develop the property.
“Our complaints are that the bishop and the diocese have apparently covetous attitude on our property, which, if allowed to prevail, will go against the wilful giving of Christians to a project of their choice,” they said.
“We seek your urgent intervention as the head of ACK for an amicable settlement in view of the fact that as Christians, we are obligated by the scriptures to try and resolve our dispute amicably before moving to secular courts.”