, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 4 – The Judiciary on Tuesday took back about 1.47 hectares of land that had been irregularly acquired by private developers in Mombasa.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga received the title deed belonging to the Mombasa High Court after its allocation was revoked by the Lands Ministry.
While handing back the title, Lands Minister James Orengo noted that his ministry had recovered about 1,000 parcels of illegally acquired public land with 11 belonging to the Judiciary.
“Today we will hand over to you a title of land belonging to the Judiciary as it was irregularly given to private individuals. This we believe will increase the capacity for the Judiciary to construct courts and other required structures,” he said.
Orengo further noted his ministry had in the past three years received about 50 acres of land belonging to the Judiciary.
“You can see that the Permanent Secretary in the Treasury has been named as a trustee of the Judiciary in this title and we will keep recovering such lands,” he said.
He added that the government would set up a team to finalise works on the Community Land Bill, with a Sh90 million budget, as the government moved to fight land grabbing.
Three legislations touching on land have been enacted since the promulgation of the Constitution with the aim of facilitating land reforms.
“Parliament enacted the National Land Commission Act, the Land Act and the Land Registration Act. In April, a taskforce was enhanced to fully operationalise these acts and the works are in progress,” he explained.
Mutunga, on his part, said that the Judiciary was setting up an Asset Register to manage judicial property countrywide saying it had lost court houses as well as land to fraudulent dealers.
He also observed how difficult it had become for the courts to expand due to lack of land.
“It’s a remarkable irony that as the Judiciary grapples with how to accommodate an increasing cadre of officers and clients, spaces set aside for this purpose have been captured and appropriated by private interests,” he observed.
Mutunga also issued a stern warning to those who had stolen public land urging them to surrender it as the Constitution provided the legal framework to help curb such acts.
“There is a general misconception that public property is idle for people to loot at will. Public property is people’s property so those who wish to test the Judiciary’s commitment to protect it need to have a fresh look at the Constitution,” he charged.
In 2010 former Chief Justice Evan Gicheru asked the Lands Ministry to help the Judiciary get back judicial land in Eldoret, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi.
“Eleven parcels were recovered and were given back to the then Chief Justice Evan Gicheru,” Orengo noted.
Orengo also lauded the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission for helping get back illegally acquired property.
He added that the National Land Commission had power to review all grants and disposition of land as the country moved towards correcting historical land injustices.