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Anglican Church in Kenya loses Land and Property in Legal Battles

Anglican Church in Kenya loses Land and Property in Legal Battles

By Godfrey Olukya
VOL African Correspondent
September 16, 2020

A number of Anglican churches in Kenya have lost land and property worth millions of shillings in legal battles.

Although some of them have title deeds, they have been declared null and void by the courts leading to churches vacating and leaving behind massive developments.

''The reason why we are losing land in court battles is that we trusted those who gave us land and never bothered to get land titles. The people who gave us pieces of land to construct there churches long ago died and those who inherited them are now throwing us out because we never got land titles.'' said the Rev. Peter Odwoli of Saint James Church in Nairobi.

The Standard newspaper of Kenya on 13th September quoted Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit saying in an interview that most of the land issues are as a result of the trust the church had in those who allocated or gifted them.

Archbishop Sapit said that Instead of processing the titles immediately, they started developing the property and when brokers discovered this, they took advantage of the situation by processing titles in different names and later asking the church to vacate the property.'

"The fraudsters took advantage of religious institutions because they felt men of God cannot fight but vacate quietly."

The archbishop gave the example that on June 3, 2020 the Environment and Land Court ordered the Anglican Church to vacate land it had been occupying for four decades. The Church had told the court it was allocated the land by a self-help group during subdivision of the 719 acres property and constructed a church, a vicarage and established an orange farm.

This was in a case where the late Esbon Wainaina's children went to court in 2017 claiming the church had hived off 0.574 acres without permission.

They asked the court to kick the church out or order that they be compensated Sh600,000, ($5,467.00) being the market value of the portion, and general damages for the loss of use.

The court heard that Wainaina was a member of the Ndabatabi Self-Help Group that bought 719 acres from a white settler in the 1960s. In 1973 the land was subdivided and members were allocated plots. His father got plot No 38, where he settled with his family until he died in 2014.

In 1988, the members got titles for the land through a land commission, which carried out the survey.

Wainaina's children - Francis Mugo and Peter Mugo - argued that the church could not have participated in balloting for the land allocation because it was not a member of the self-help group.

Justice Grace Kimei found that according to the registered document, from which the titles were prepared, the family is the registered owner of the suit land. She ruled that the church did not present a justifiable reason to continue occupying the land, and found it in trespass or illegal occupation of the same.

In Langata, Nairobi, a property that the Anglican trustees purchased and developed using funds raised by faithful is subject to legal battle.

The court declined to declare null and void the National Land Commission's decision to revoke a title deed for the 0.60 hectares on which Anglican Church of Kenya Good Shepherd stands, on the grounds that its rights were violated by being denied a hearing by NLC.
In a judgment delivered on May 14, Justice Elijah Obaga said the Anglican Church had a case before the Environment and Land Court on the same asset, where legality of the title can be ventilated.

The church has established a sanctuary, Sunday school, office block and nursery school on the suit land.

The Land Commission revoked the title deed issued on July 13, 2013, following a complaint by the Kenya Highways Authority that it was public land.

Several other Church's land has also been affected.


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