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Moi Family to pay Sh2B for grabbed land

The land in Eldoret was grabbed and later sold to the Rai family

Susan Chelugui, the 88-year-old widow of former Chief Noah Chelugui, and her son David can now breathe a sigh of relief after the Court of Appeal ruled that they be compensated for the 53-acre land grabbed from them by former President Daniel Moi in 1983.

Court of Appeal judges Patrick Kiage, Kathumira M’Inoti and Mumbi Ngugi dismissed appeals against the Rai and Moi families in a ruling made in 2019 which directed that the former president and the industrialists pay the family of the late Chief Sh1 Billion for the land.

In the 2019 ruling, the High Court said there was no proof in court to show that the former president owned the land in question.

“There is no iota of evidence as to how the former President was registered as the proprietor of the suit land, which was part of property that belonged to Noah Kimngeny Chelugui. The state counsel stated that these were orders from above by the first defendant, who was the President,” ruled the court.

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In their appeal, the Moi family through its administrator Zehrabanu Janmohammed argued that the court was wrong in using the 2010 constitution to determine a case that happened when the laws governing the land were different. The court however said the current laws regarding the protection of property are applicable to any disputes regardless of time.

“We think that Article 40 of the constitution is one of those constitutional provisions that is not limited in its application. It can, and must in appropriate cases, apply retrospectively. It seems quite clear to us that the right to property is ring-fenced by the constitution and courts must be vigilant to ensure that the State and those who wield State power do not by might negate the right,” read the ruling by the court.

The 53 acre piece of land in Eldoret is now used to grow wheat for the Jaswant Rai family who are also the owners of the West Kenya Sugar company which produces Kabras Sugar. The family have been running operations in the farm since 2007.

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The Chelugui family who were represented by lawyer Ahmdednasir Abdullahi asked the court to consider using the current valuation when awarding the compensation and also have a Sh244 million for-profit, considering the family would have been using the land for business.

The court however declined saying the appeal on the compensation should have been made when the high court ruled on the matter.

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