The government has suffered a major blow after the High Court issued temporary orders stopping Kenyatta University from surrendering the title deed of a parcel of land that the State intends to hive off for allocation to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a ruling delivered by Justice Oscar Angote of the Employment and Lands Court issued the conservatory orders restraining the state from possessing the 490 acres pending the hearing of a case filed by the Law Society of Kenya challenging the illegal acquisition of the institution's land.
"That until July 27, 2022, when the application will be heard inter-parties, an order is hereby issued restraining the respondents (the government), their agents, successors, and assigns from harassing an employee, officials, agents, and or representatives of Kenyatta University in the enforcement of the directives contained in the letter dated July 4, 2022, and July 7, 2022," Justice Angote ordered.
The judge further barred the state or its agents from harassing an employee, officials, agents and or representative of Kenyatta University in the enforcement of the directives issued by the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
"An order is hereby issued preventing the KU Council Chairman Prof Shem Migoti Adholla his agents, successors and assigns from surrendering the title documents to the parcel of land known as land reference number 11026/2 pending inter-parties hearing of the matter, " ordered Justice Angote.
Justice Angote certified the matter as urgent and scheduled the hearing of the application on July 27, 2022.
Through lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi, LSK sought court intervention saying that the compulsory acquisition part of the land is illegal and unconstitutional as the Council of KU or members of the public were never called for public participation.
" Unless this court intervenes, the respondents will implement the impugned directive thereby arbitrarily depriving KU of the parcel of land that is being forced to surrender without compensation," Ahmednasir states.
LSK petitions State directives in court
LSK's petition highlights arguments that the government through the highest office in the land has been harassing, issuing threats, and intimidating members of the council for failure to surrender the land as directed.
"The petitioner seeks to show Head of Public Service Kinyua's actions have been used and utilized for purposes of perpetuating and concealing illegalities, further to profit and benefit corrupt inept individuals at the expense of the institutions, against the law and public policy," the senior lawyer told the court.
He added that the University has a detailed master plan which shows how it intends to utilize its land to provide much-needed education services to Kenyan citizens.
LSK moved to court amid public debate on the escalating war pitting former Kenyatta University’s Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina against President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The lawyers' lobby group further states that Head of Public Service Kinyua in letters dated July 4 and 7 this year unconstitutionally asked the institution’s former Vice Chancellor Wainaina to surrender the institution’s title deed to facilitate the annexation process.
According to the court papers, the council chairman Migoti responded to Kinyua's letters highlighting the constitutional and statutory anomalies in the process of purporting to acquire the K U land.
In the case, The Head of Public Service Kinyua and National Lands Commission (NLC), and Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney are among the six respondents listed in the case.
Professor Wainaina's case against the government
The institution’s former Vice-Chancellor Professor Wainanina and Prof Migoti are listed as interested parties in the case.
The reluctance by the institution to comply with the government’s demands angered President Uhuru Kenyatta who blasted Wainaina for hindering the government’s efforts to spur development.
The tiff led to the removal of the institution’s council and the subsequent resignation of Wainaina.
President Kenyatta accused the former VC of frustrating government projects by “laying claim to public land.”
And to make good his threat, Prof Wainaina confirmed he had learned of plans to reconstitute the University Council as part of an elaborate plan to eject him from office.
Prof Wainaina, who declined to authorize the transfer of part of the university’s land to settle squatters, told the university community the Ministry of Education had demanded that the university avails the land which had already been subdivided by the Ministry of Lands with the National Lands Commission said to have commenced the process of preparing titles.
Other than 30 acres earmarked for allocation to WHO, the government wants to hive off 190 acres to settle Kamae Squatters, 10 acres for the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and another 180 acres for the Kenyatta University teaching, Referral and Research Hospital.