By Sheila Mutua.
The High Court in Nairobi on Friday, June 28, dealt businessman Francis Mburu a blow when it ruled that the contested 13.77-acre Ruaraka land, where Ruaraka Secondary School and Drive Inn Primary School sit on, belongs to the State — and not Mburu.
A three-judge bench comprising Bernard Eboso, Elijah Obaga and Kossy Ber said the National Land Commission (NLC) misled the Ministry of Education into paying Mburu Ksh1.5 billion for the land.
The education docket at the time was under the leadership of the now-Interior minister Dr Fred Matiang’i.
The Government paid Ksh1.5 billion in down payment for the parcel, where the two public schools stand.
In their defense, NLC said they had conducted a search to establish who owns the land; and they found — from the Lands Ministry records — that the property was registered under Mburu’s name.
The judges, however, dismissed NLC’s argument, saying “findings of a search was not complete evidence of ownership”.
NLC, through their lawyer Tom Ojienda, had moved to court seeking the institution’s intervention in determining the validity of contested Ruaraka land title deed.
Though the judges did not give directions on what will happen to Mburu now that he had already received payment for the public land, High Court advocate, Duncan Okatch, says the State will have to compel the businessman to return the monies, or seek the court’s permission to recover the tycoon’s assets valued at that amount.
Mburu’s next move remains unclear, though Okatch predicts that the businessman will appeal against the High Court ruling.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) previously said it had begun investigations into how the land was “irregularly” transferred to Mburu.