Governmental land grabbing:
Squatters to get Criticos’ land
Story by JONATHAN MANYINDO
Publication Date: 3/8/2008
The Government has cleared the way for the purchase of 15,000
acres of land belonging to former MP Basil Criticos in Taveta
District to resettle squatters.
Solicitor-general Wanjuki Muchemi has written to National Bank of
Kenya, advising them that they are at liberty to accept payment
for the land from Settlement Fund Trustee (SFT) against the
objections of Mr Criticos.
In a letter to the Lands PS dated February 14, 2008, Mr Muchemi
said that after perusing High Court files it had emerged that Mr
Criticos had not filed any court injunction to stop National Bank
of Kenya from receiving money for the purchase of the land. The
land was charged to the bank after Mr Criticos failed to service
Sh20 million loaned to him before he went into self-imposed exile
In the letter, Mr Muchemi says in part: “On perusal of the court
files it is our considered view that there are no court orders to
restrain the National Bank of Kenya from receiving or accepting
any monies or other consideration for the sale or transfer of LR
Mr Muchemi further said the original title was in the custody of
SFT as the property was transferred in September last year and the
only step remaining in the transaction was payment of purchase by
the Ministry of Lands.
Mr Criticos on Friday came out fighting, saying that the
Government was being unfair to him because the transfer was done
without his consent. He said the process was politically motivated
and claimed that the action by the solicitor-general was unlawful.
Speaking on the phone, the former MP said he had filed a court
injunction restraining the bank from receiving any money from the
Government “and that was why the process was halted”.
“I have on several occasions negotiated with the bank, pleading
with them to take Sh63 million but they have remained adamant,” he
The Government has allegedly paid Sh55 million to the SFT to
purchase land belonging to the former controversial Taveta MP.
Mr Criticos insisted that the land transaction was done “behind
closed doors” despite a court order barring the Government from
paying the money to the SFT issued last year by the High court in
A letter from Criticos’ lawyer Pheroze Nowrojee dated February 19
this year to the director of SFT and obtained by the Saturday
Nation says the court injunction is still in force and any
transaction will be null and void.
The lawyer said the High Court had already filed an injunction
against SFT not to release any monies in respect of the said sale
as it would be a violation of the court orders.
“The SFT have already been enjoined in the above proceedings. If
you release any monies while the suits are pending there will be
even further violations of the law,” Nowrojee said in his letter.
Mr Criticos said even after he offered to pay the loan with an
interest amounting to Sh63 million, the Ministry of Lands last
year went ahead and illegally transferred the land without his
consent for Sh55 million
Mr Criticos said, according to land valuers sponsored by the bank
before the property was offered for sale, it was valued at Sh300
“If my land is worth Sh300 million, there is no reason for the
Government to take it at a throw away price unless there is an
ulterior motive behind the whole deal,” he said.
He accused an unnamed Cabinet minister of allegedly colluding with
corrupt Ministry of Lands official “to forcibly wrest the farm”
He said two weeks ago the minister addressed a rally in Taveta
Town and told residents that the farm had already been taken by
the Government and it would soon be distributed to the landless.
“These are some of the injustices we are expecting the grand
coalition government to address for peace to prevail in the
country,” he said.
At the same time he claimed that following the minister’s remarks
scores of squatters have invaded his farm and started uprooting