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Reversed Sh1.8bn Land Payout Story Lands Standard Newspaper in Court

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Mombasa-based businessman Mohamed Jaffer has sued The Standard newspaper for defamation over an article it published in August linking him to a company embroiled in the bungled SGR land compensation.  

Reporting on a High Court ruling in Mombasa, the Standard wrote that Mr Jaffer, describing him as a tycoon, had been ordered to refund Ksh1.8 billion that his company received as compensation for compulsory acquisition of land in Mombasa five years ago.

Defamation case

The Standard reported that Maritini Free Port Ltd, a company owned by Mr Jaffer, had irregularly received the money in 2015.  Sued alongside Standard Group Ltd is newspaper reporter Willis Oketch.

Through Marende & Nyaundi Advocates, Jaffer filed the defamation case at the High Court in Nairobi on 1st September.  The law firm argues that the Standard misquoted the contents of the ruling of Justice Eric Ogola delivered on 30th July 2020 at the Mombasa High Court.

The lawyers argue that Standard reported that Jaffer was the person against whom the court order was made for the refund of Ksh1.8 billion yet he was not party to the suit. The article was highlighted on the front page and used prominently inside.

The ruling arose from a petition filed by squatters seeking to recover the land sold to Miritini Free Port Ltd. The judge found that the petitioners, who are squatters, were originally allocated plots number MN/VI/3912 and MN/VI/3913 by the government in 1996 as compensation after being evicted from the Sheikh Sayed Children Centre in Bombolulu.

However, the Commissioner of Land later cancelled their survey plan without informing them or obtaining their consent, consolidated the two plots into plot number MN/VI/4688 and allocated to Miqdad Enterprises, which, in turn, sold it to Miritini Free Port Ltd.

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 “It is therefore clear the NLC paid part of the compensation money to a wrong party either knowingly or inadvertently,” Justice Ogola. “The amount alleged already paid to interested party is said to be Ksh1,475,486,485 plus a further interruption amount of Ksh360 million.”

Justice Ogola said the NLC has powers to issue a notice to recover money erroneously paid for land that does not belong to an individual or a company.

‘the report paints a negative picture of Mr Jaffer, who is a renowned businessman with a solid reputation.’

The suit came after Standard Group, which publishes the Standard newspapers, failed to respond to a demand from Mr Jaffer’s lawyer seeking an apology and retraction of the report.

Mr Mohamed Jaffer says in the suit papers that the article was written in a “most sensational manner” targeting him “through an unfounded attack based on falsehoods and grounded in sheer perniciousness.”

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The suit says Standard newspaper maliciously and deliberately employed false and unfounded facts and used strong language calculated to maximize the injury and reduce his standing and/or perception in society.

It says the report paints a negative picture of Mr Jaffer, who is a renowned businessman in grain bulk handling with a solid reputation in his business dealings and transactions in Kenya and abroad.

Through the suit, Jaffer is seeking compensation for, among others, general damages for defamation, exemplary and aggravated damages, as well as Ksh798,000 special damages for expenses incurred in advertising to clear his name.

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BT Reporter
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