The National Land Commission may have irregularly paid Sh1.5 billion in compensation for land whose ownership is at the centre of a dispute between two city schools and two private companies.
This is after it emerged on Tuesday that the land is owned by the government.
On March 17 last year, then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i authorised the NLC to acquire the 13.5 acre-land, LR No. 7879/4 in Ruaraka, Nairobi, for the two schools — Ruaraka High School and Drive-In Primary School.
The “acquisition” included paying Sh3.3 billion in compensation to Afrison Exports and Imports Limited and Huelands limited, two companies owned by businessman Mr Francis Mburu, which have claimed ownership of the land.
According to correspondence between Dr Matiang’i and the NLC the “acquisition” was to regularise the schools’ ownership of the land.
However, there are pointers that the Cabinet Secretary may have sanctioned the compensation without getting to understand the history of ownership.
Documents presented to the National Assembly’s Lands committee by Ruaraka High School management, among them an allotment letter and survey maps, during a site visit of the land on Tuesday, shows that the land was donated by the government.
According to Mr John Thuo, who has served for 18 years as the chairman of the school’s board of management, the land was set aside by the government in 1966 for utility purposes.
This includes building social amenities like schools, hospitals or dispensary, markets among others.
Mr Thuo told the MPs that in 1984, through the help of former area MP and one time city mayor, the late Andrew Ngumba, the school acquired the land through the city education plan.
In 1999, the school got an allotment letter and paid Sh3,066 for the processing of its title that is still pending.
The first registration was done in 1987, 1997 and 2009 according to information before the committee.
“This land belongs to the school. All these years we have been developing the school there has never been any single complaint of ownership,” Mr Thuo told the committee chaired by Kitui South MP Dr Rachael Nyamai.
The committee is investigating claims of fraudulent acquisition by the two companies and double compensation by the NLC.
“We have been shooting in the dark. Today, we seem to be getting the right information that will make this committee make an informed decision when writing the report,” Dr Nyamai said.
In response to Dr Matiang’i request, NLC chairman Dr Muhammad Swazuri promised to ensure that the acquisition is done within the law.
But the two school’s principals, Ms Agnes Chege (Ruaraka High School) and her counterpart at Drive-In Primary School, Mr Benjamin Oloo, told the committee that NLC did not involve them in the process.
“The officers from the commission who came here to survey the land came on their own. We were never briefed about their mission,” Ms Chege said.