LAND ROW

State to repossess 10,000 acres of Miwani mill from private firm

There is no document to show that Crossley Holdings Limited which allegedly bought the leased land paid any amount for the contested piece.

In Summary
  • PS Boga termed the transfer a fraud.
  • He said they are engaging PS Lands to cancel title issued to Crossley.
Miwani Sugar Company Limited.
DISPUTED: Miwani Sugar Company Limited.
Image: COURTESY

The state is in the process of repossessing 10,000 acres of Miwani Sugar Company purportedly sold to a private entity, terming the transfer fraudulent and fictitious.

The Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday narrated how the huge swathe of land was fictitiously transferred to a private firm by people out to defraud the miller which is currently a candidate of privatisation.

According to records at the ministry, there is no document to show that Crossley Holdings Limited, which allegedly bought the land, paid any money for the contested piece.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga said they are already in talks with the Lands PS Francis Muraguri and the plan to repossess the land is at advanced stages.

“The legal team and the receiver manager had a meeting on September 30, 2020, at Ardhi House between the Principal Secretary Ministry of Lands Francis Muraguri, Francis Ooko joint receiver/manager to discuss acquisition of land,” Boga said.

“The Principal Secretary has directed that we immediately lodge the original title together with the supporting documents so that the provisional title issued to Crossley Holdings Limited can be cancelled and to pave way for the transfer to Miwani Sugar (1989) Limited.”

Crossly had laid claim on the factory land (Land Registration Number 7445/2 and 7445/3) following the privatisation of the state-owned millers.

The company is now demanding Sh4.6 billion in compensation for the land.

According to documents tabled before the National Assembly Agriculture committee chaired by Moiben MP Silas Tiren, the land was sold to Crossly  Holdings Limited on December 24, 2007, following a 1993 Kisumu court order.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga told MPs that the company did not only fail to pay Sh1.5 million bidding fee but also did not pay the Sh742 million auction amount.

“Following discovery of the said purported sale and transfer, the receivers/managers instructed the company’s advocates to move to court to challenge the purported sale and transfer and Justice Mwera in a ruling on 13th June, 2008 declared all the proceedings that led to the sale of the property null and void,” Boga told the House committee.

“Further the court of Appeal in civil appeal number 26 of 2008 in a judgment delivered on 29th July 2011 upheld the decision by Justice Mwera.”

Despite the express court order, Boga told MPs that the Lands registry declined to implement the order to date, something that he noted has made it difficult to make a decision on the future of the company.

“Besides the court proceedings, the EACC and the DPP did prefer criminal proceedings against the directors of Crossley Holdings Limited, the company itself and other parties who participated in the fraudulent sale and the case is also subject of appeal in the High Court,” the PS stated.

In 2018, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered the prosecution of Kibos Sugar Company chairman Sukhwinder Singh Chathe, Crossley Holdings and seven other suspects for conspiracy to fraudulently transfer the land between 2007 and 2008.

He added: “The judgment of Justice Mumbi Ngugi on the appeal ruled in favour of the DPP. The accused have since applied for a stay of execution order and the case is still in court.”

Boga appeared before the committee to respond to questions by nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi who sought an explanation on the circumstances under which 10,000 acres leased to Miwani Sugar Company was allegedly sold to Crossley Holdings Limited.

Edited by Henry Makori