Weston Hotel in January 2015/FILE

By Reporter

The National Land Commission has defended its decision to allow Deputy President William Ruto pay for the land on which Weston Hotel stands despite the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority’s claim to it.

In its latest filings in court, NLC argues that KCAA simply wanted it to ignore Ruto’s rights as a legitimate buyer of the property.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the remedy of restitution sought by the petitioner would mean that the NLC would turn a blind eye to Weston Hotel’s rights as a bonafide purchaser and further act in violation of Section 14 of the NLC Act which allows the Commission to issue consequential orders it deems appropriate in a claim, the Constitution of Kenya and the Fair Administrative Act,” NLC said.

The NLC had declared that the land belongs to the public but directed that the hotel pay KCAA for its market value to legalise the ownership.

KCAA opposed the decision in court. The civil aviation authority claims Weston Hotel is built on public land designated as a flight path. It says the land was irregularly transferred to private developers.

It argues that the NLC had no powers to order for compensation or force a person who had grabbed public land to compensate the government or its agencies.

In its filings, the land commission claims the suit by KCAA is an abuse of the court process and should be thrown out. 

The NLC’s response came just days after Ruto changed his legal strategy in the battle for Weston and said he is ready to pay.

Ruto now argues that KCAA should conclude negotiations for compensation as ordered by the NLC instead of pursuing a fresh case seeking to repossess the land.

This is a departure from the hotel’s initial defence that it was the legitimate owner of the property and compensating the government amounted to “unjust enrichment” of the state agency.

KCAA in its case claims there is no evidence that the NLC had quorum as only one commissioner signed the controversial verdict.

It also says NLC did not have the jurisdiction to preside over the complaint on the restitution of the land as the commission’s mandate to review grants and dispositions of public land had expired.

In court documents filed on August 12 and obtained by the Star, the NLC said that it heard all parties and rendered its recommendations in accordance with the law.

In replying affidavit by Brian Ikol who is director legal affairs, NLC accuses KCAA of withholding information and misrepresenting facts with the intent to mislead the court.

Ikol explains how NLC received complaints from KCAA in 2015 alleging various parcels of land were illegally allocated to private individuals.

KCAA claimed that the land was used as store premises for machinery and equipment by the East African Community (EAC).

NLC then admitted the complaint for review of the legality of the grant of the land. It invited all interested parties to the proceedings which were held on various dates between March 29, 2017 to October 31, 2018. NLC made its decision on the matter on January 22, 2019.

The disputed land is currently registered as belonging to Weston Hotel.