Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi has accused the police of bias against him in documents filed before the Lands Court. Mwangi through his lawyers has poked holes into the conduct of the police he accuses of secretly reopening investigations into a land dispute.
The row over the ownership of a 3-acre piece of prime land in Nairobi’s high-end Muthaiga neighbourhood Nairobi pits Mwangi against Mount Pleasant Director Anverali Amershi Karmali. Both individuals have laid claim to the land.
Based on Hass Land Index valuation data for Q2 2022, Business Today estimates that the land is worth at least Ksh603.9 million today. Mwangi accuses the police of violating his rights by failing to record statements on his purchase of the land and bringing to question past verification of his ownership documents.
Mwangi had secured a temporary order blocking the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and DPP from conducting fresh investigations into the land row. Justice Hedwig Ong’udi granted Mwangi a temporary order stopping any arrest or questioning and transferred the constitutional petition to the Lands Court handling the Muthaiga dispute.
“It is an abuse of power, irrational and unreasonable for the 1st respondent (DCI) to purport to conduct investigations on a matter whose investigations were already concluded and fail to give notice to the petitioners,” Mwangi told the court.
Karmali claims to have bought the three-acre land parcel in July 2006 from Moi-era Finance minister Arthur Magugu and his wife, Margaret Wairimu for Ksh130 million. He moved to court in 2020 terming Mwangi a trespasser and seeking to have Mwangi evicted from the land.
Mwangi, on the other hand said he purchased the property from the late President Daniel Arap Moi in December 2012. Mwangi explained that he purchased two parcels- L.R No.214/20/2 and 214/20/1/1 – from Moi. He paid a deposit of Ksh32 million in February 2013 and the Ksh288.5 million in March 2013, in addition to a Ksh12.8 million stamp duty payment.
Mwangi argued that Magugu’s ownership documents were not genuine because the land initially belonged to Moi. He questioned the clarity of Karmali’s testimony as it states, at one point, that Magugu took over the land through adverse possession and also states that Magugu acquired the property from Moi.
Mwangi stated that he occupied the land without any interruption until April 2019 when unknown persons tried to forcibly evict him. He reported the matter at Muthaiga Police Station.
According to Mwangi, the Ministry of Lands verified his ownership of the land and confirmed the same to him in January 2020 as detailed in a communication from Muthaiga police. Mwangi, therefore, questions the transparency of the new investigation.
“I, therefore, confirm to you that from my office, I am satisfied that the parcel as per the documents and confirmation from the Principal Secretary Lands registrar offices, the land is owned by your client James Njuguna Mwangi and Jane Wangui Mundia.”
“Your client is at liberty to do any development that he might intend to do on the land without any interference from any other quarter,” the Muthaiga police station boss reportedly informed Mwangi in 2020.
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