A land ownership dispute in Kilifi county pitting a cement manufacturer and some politicians has spilled over to the corridors of justice.
Local politicians and some residents claim the cement firm used an illegal process to acquire the disputed prime parcels of land at Vipingo area and should therefore be surrendered to the community.
A parliamentary committee sided with the argument that the land was acquired illegally and recommended the nullification of its titles against a finding by the National Land Commission which gave the process used to acquire the lands from Vipingo Estate Limited in 2005 at a cost of Sh 68 million, a clean bill of health.
Fearing that the ministry of Lands whose chief administrative secretary Gedion Mung’aro was among national assembly’s lands committee members who investigated the matter and recommended the repossession of the lands could push for implementation of the parliament’s verdict, the cement maker has rushed to court for protection.
Mung’aro has been among Kilifi politicians who have been at the forefront in persistently calling for the repossession of the Vipingo land accusing Mombasa cement of grabbing the property and displacing thousands of squatters.
In a case at the High Court in Mombasa, the cement manufacturer through its managing director Hasmukh Patel argues that under the national land commission Act and the constitution, a committee of parliament has no jurisdiction to investigate or overturn a decision on a matter that is the function of a commission.
The ministry of Lands, the Attorney General and the speaker of the national assembly are the defendants in the Kilifi land matter.
Mombasa cement wants the court to determine whether parliament has jurisdiction to investigate a matter that falls under an independent commission.
The firm also wants the state stopped from implementing the committee’s report that termed the process illegal as NLC had also dispensed with subsequent challenges to the acquisition and transfer after listening to all interested parties, including residents.
“Parliamentary committees acting under Article 124 of the Constitution and Standing Order 216 (5) have no jurisdiction whatsoever to inquire into, investigate, report on any matter relating to the mandate or which is the mandate of the commission,” NLC said through its lawyer.
“If the state or its organs were dissatisfied with the NLC’s findings, the proper forum to review it would have been the High Court,” it went on.
After the committee’s recommendation, the Lands ministry wrote to NLC calling for nullification of the title deeds. The court will rule on the matter on April 25