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Court defers plea taking for four officials in Sh944m land case

One of the accused obtains order suspending his trial

In Summary
  • Chief magistrate Andayi directed the matter be mentioned on June 10 for prosecution to get proper instructions.
  • The four officials are accused of using fake land ownership documents to lay claim to and lead land occupation gangs that have been fronting as self-help groups.
Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi
Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi
Image: FILE

A magistrate court on Tuesday deferred the plea of four officials of the Sowesava self-help group accused of Sh944 million land fraud in Donholm, Nairobi.

Chief magistrate Francis Andayi deferred the plea after one of the officials obtained an order suspending his trial.

Patrobas Awino was expected to plead to the charges alongside former Kayole chief Alexander Hoops Shihemi, Peter Kanika and Peter Muiruri but got a relief after the High Court reinstated his petition and suspended his plea taking.

On October 7, 2020, Awino moved to the Constitutional Court to stop his prosecution, but Justice James Makau dismissed the suit for want of prosecution.

While dismissing it, Makau noted that the last time Awino was in court was in June 2019 and had failed to appear in court on several occasions.

On Tuesday, the prosecution requested more time to go through the ruling and get proper instructions on whether to exclude Awino in the charge sheet.

“We need more time to decide on what to do regarding the matter, We had included all the accused in the charge sheet,” the prosecution told the court.

Chief magistrate Andayi directed that the matter be mentioned on June 10 for prosecution to get proper instructions.

The four officials  are accused of using fake land ownership documents to lay claim to and lead land occupation gangs that have been fronting as self-help groups, with the intention of applying political pressure to be allotted the said land.

The prosecution claims that the four have been using fake allocation letters/title documents that cannot be supported by any records at the lands registry.

They were first charged in 2018 in separate suits, but the courts agreed with the prosecution and the defence to consolidate the cases as they were handling similar matters.

The four were arraigned in 2018 after their activities were investigated by the DCI.

The Embakasi, Savanna, Donholm areas of Nairobi have for close to two decades been plagued by land-grabbing cartels who used villagers to invade any undeveloped space.

The villagers pose as needy squatters, who are then coached how to form a "self-help group" and demand that they be allocated the land by City Hall.

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara