When the Mombasa – Nairobi Highway expansion project was launched in 2016, with details of a phase 3 that would involve major road works in the Mlolongo – James Gichuru road section, a known Lands fraudster – Simon Nyamanya Ondiba – moved with speed to register a company by the name SIMANDI Ltd with which he sought to acquire a property on Mombasa Road.
Because he worked as a Lands fraud investigator for the former NLC Chairman Mohammed Swazuri, he had insider knowledge that there would be compulsory acquisition of the properties that lined the Mombasa Road.
However, being a man of no means, he had no plan to speculatively purchase a property then wait for several years to be compensated, he had his eyes set on the property of a widow – Roseline Njeri Macharia – whom he considered a walkover, and whose property he erroneously believed he could take over while she played possum.
The property he had set sights on is the iconic City Cabanas Hotel, a landmark that had stood in place for more than 2 decades.
In his civil suit ELC 1035 of 2016 before Justice Samson Okong’o, the fraudster Ondiba claimed to have acquired the property alongside his wife Mary Nyamanya through Mwanyambori Investments Ltd from the KNCCI in July 1994 at a price of Ksh. 60,000,000/- which they claim to have paid in full and thus became the registered owners.
However, they claim that Roseline Njeri Macharia trespassed on their land in 2016 and built a perimeter wall around it.
Where the hell were these people from 1994 when they purported to purchase the land until 2016 when they discovered the land was being invaded? What of the 22-year hiatus when Roseline did some major construction and development on it? Had they gone back to Kisii to hibernate while waiting for “their land” to appreciate in value?
Simon Nyamanya, being a land fraud investigator for the NLC sought refuge in the same body for arbitration over the ownership of the land, and claims that the NLC declared that the land was his.
The NLC is the body mandated by law to determine compulsory acquisitions and compensations on land matters. Quite convenient too that the matter came before the same NLC hot on the heels of an imminent compensation for land owners on Mombasa Road ought to have been a red flag, but it wasn’t.
Other than its powers for compulsory acquisition, the NLC is viewed with mild tolerance and not taken too seriously, otherwise. Mohammed Swazuri ranks as an inaugural commission Chairman who missed a massive opportunity to garner the trust of Kenyans and slowly sunk the commssion to levels similar to all others. Mistrusted and derided.
In a 22 November 2016 letter to NLC and its then Chairman Mohammed Swazuri, the law firm of Kihara Njuguna & Co. Advocates writing on behalf of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI) set the facts straight to the commission.
From the minutes of the KNCCI National Governing Committee (NGC) it met on various dates between March 1994 and July 1995 at their Ufanisi House and agreed to hive off 10 acres of their 20-acre parcel of land on Airport Road and conclude its sale.
Subsequently, the 10 acres were sold to Mrs. Macharia for Ksh. 24,000,000/- and the KNCCI Management committee did the actual follow-up with the Lands Department to ensure that she got her title deed.
They also attached copies of signed minutes of the meetings that concluded the deal.
Roseline thereafter took possession of the property and continued to enjoy it, doing her business of a major hotel and entertainment venue for decades.
She even used the property as collateral to acquire 3 separate loans over the years from Daima Bank, Guardian Bank and Euro Bank, some of which even became subject of court cases.
In all this time, a supposed buyer of the land sat somewhere quietly, blissfully unaware that the property he purportedly paid for was occupied and major construction work taken place, without once ever having staked a claim on it.
Roseline Njeri Macharia’s quiet enjoyment of this property was rudely and abruptly interrupted in 2016 when she was served with court papers for case number ELC 1035/2016 (Simandi Investments Ltd vs Roseline Njeri Macharia).
DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
To read the submissions of Simon Ondiba to the courts in this civil matter will leave you sickened by just how low our country has sunk in terms of corruption. The fact that our courts of law entertain outright lies and concoctions, without penalty is a clear indication of the lunacy within our judiciary.
According to Ondiba, KNCCI led by its then Chairman Kassim Owango (now deceased) held a meeting on 17th June 1994 at their Ufanisi House boardroom and agreed to sell 10 acres out of 20 acres it owned on Mombasa Road, in order to defray its debts at the time. Apparently the NGC mandated Owango to personally handle the sale of the land on their behalf.
Already alarm bells are going off all over, why a body corporate, with a Governing Council and secretariat, mandates its Chairman to personally handle the sale of its property.
To refer to the tenure of Kassim Owango at the helm of the KNCCI as chaotic would be an understatement, but it is what it is!
Anyhow, as he was whiling time away in Kisii, Ondiba somehow learnt of the KNCCI decision to dispose of the property and dashed to Nairobi accompanied by his wife Mary Nyamanya to visit the site and KNCCI offices.
At the KNCCI, they were ushered into the office of KNCCI CEO Charles Anyama (deceased) who took them through the decisions of the KNCCI NGC in the presence of Chairman Owango.
Anyama, Ondiba and Mary left KNCCI office to go and visit the site, and while there identified its beacons, they then went back to KNCCI offices, where they were shown the sub-divisions and where they selected their preferred parcel of land.
They then accompanied the late Owango and the late Anyama to KNCCI lawyers Kandie Kimutai & Co. Advocates (also deceased) where a sale agreement was drafted with a payment plan for the purchase price of Ksh. 60,000,000/- to be paid in 3 installments.
For some inexplicable reason, this lawyer (late Kandie) would represent both the vendor and purchaser, and the transfer documents were signed on the spot by Owango & Anyama.
Though unclear as to when, Ondiba claims to have completed payments for the land but upon trying to effect the transfer, he discovered that the deed plan was missing and therefore reported its loss to Parliament Police Station, who issued him an abstract with which he obtained a certified copy on 17th April 2014.
Simon Ondiba would eventually obtain registration documents to the property registered on 19th May 2017.
Lo, and behold, 23 years after he supposedly paid out ksh. 60,000,000/- he began the actual process of applying for the ownership documents to the property? Did he even attempt to construct a shack on the property (like normal people) where he would employ a watchman to watch over it?
Ondiba claims that he and his wife resolved to sell part of the property in order to develop the other, and that it was when he entered the property with would-be buyers that he was approached by neighbors (one Asian and the other African) who prodded him by asking him what the hell he was doing on other people’s property.
His reaction was to sprint to daddy Swazuri at NLC and the uber-corrupt Lands office with his newly minted documents to lay claim to the property.
However his story begins to unravel under closer scrutiny.
A licensed surveyor by the name Prof. Gordon Okumu who had prepared the 1994 deed plan would confirm in a sworn affidavit that he had been approached by Laban Onditi Rao in 2013 (interesting character, this Laban), who requested him to write a letter to the Director of Surveys to ask him for a certified copy of the original deed plan, claiming that the original deed plan had been lost by KNCCI.
Obviously this was a complete fabrication because the original deed plan had already been used to execute the existing title deed in 1994, and could therefore not be lost.
Another licensed surveyor, B.M.Okumu of Boma Surveys Ltd who had been fingered by Simon Ondiba as having carried out the survey in 2016, denied ever having carried out any such survey or sub-division.
Even the irredeemably corrupt Nairobi County beat a hasty retreat when the Chief Valuer at the County ordered its Chief Accountant to remove an entry account in the Land Rates system, which were in the names of Simon Nyamanya Ondiba and his wife Mary Nyamanya because it would be impossible to make a 2nd entry with the same number as one already in existence, in the name of Roseline Njeri Macharia in 2008.
It is these inconsistencies and fabricated documents that led to the arrest and prosecution of both Ondiba and Laban Onditi.
Ondiba and a few others (need we say all of them Kisii’s?) would brazenly enter the land and attempt to demolish the perimeter wall, before alarm was raised and police arrested the group, and charged them in court.
And if this story does not raise the hackles on your back that the sanctity of any official document in Kenya including a title deed no longer exists, then you have not reached the end of your tether and you richly deserve the country as it hurtles headlong into oblivion.
In part 3, we will look deeper into the characters in this sordid affair.