Home » Legal battles cast shadow over late Kenyan President Moi family’s vast estate

Legal battles cast shadow over late Kenyan President Moi family’s vast estate

Constitutional Court challenge: Justices question authority in land disputes

by Yusuf Abdulfatai

The extensive estate left by the late Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, the nation’s second-largest landowner, is entangled in a series of legal battles, revealing power dynamics and controversies surrounding the multibillion-shilling empire amassed during his presidency.

In recent developments, a Kabarak resident has taken legal action to reclaim land adjacent to properties owned by the Moi family. A twist in the dispute occurred as a Nakuru court directed the elders involved to seek resolution in the Lands Court rather than the Constitutional Court. The elders argue that Sacho High School, established in 1982 through community fundraising, is a public asset.

Constitutional Courts challenge: Justices question authority in land disputes

According to Justices Rachel Ngetich, Teresia Matheka, and Hillary Chemitei, the Constitutional Courts lack authority in land-related issues. The elders claim that the school’s location was once part of the Kipngochoch forest, removed from protected status in 1995, and insist that public land should serve public, not private, purposes.

The trial has brought to light the power dynamics between President Moi and the local community, particularly concerning Sacho High School. Evidence suggests that while Sacho was recognized as a public institution in 1985 and received financial support, the School Trustees now argue ownership under Sacho High School Trust, alleging that Moi transformed the public school into a private entity for personal gain.

Complex legal landscape emerges as Equity Bank CEO and institutions clash over Sacho High school ownership

Sacho High School’s ownership disputed Equity Bank CEO and institutions enter legal fray

Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi has entered the legal fray, claiming ownership of a property reportedly purchased from Moi for Ksh300 million ($1.95 million). United States International University-Africa and Maestro Connections Health Systems also assert claims to the same property, adding layers of complexity to an already convoluted legal landscape.

In another legal dispute, a family from Eldoret is battling for the repossession of 53 acres allegedly acquired by Moi and sold to sugar industrialist Jaswant Rai. A magistrate determined that Moi acquired the contested property through unlawful means, leading to a ruling that both Moi and Rai pay Ksh1 billion ($6.5 million) in damages to Susan, wife of the late Noah Kipngeny Chelugui. The case, now in the Supreme Court, has attracted widespread attention.

The Moi family’s influence and wealth

The Moi family, a powerhouse in Kenyan business and politics, ranks among the nation’s wealthiest families, boasting nearly 300,000 acres and making them the second-largest landholders after the Kenyatta family. Their influence extends into media, with a substantial stake in the Standard Media Group, encompassing major outlets like Kenya Television Network, newspapers, and radio stations.

While unofficial estimates of the Moi family’s wealth are pegged at $3 billion, the veracity remains unverified, and existing legal liabilities could significantly impact their actual financial standing. The ongoing legal battles not only highlight the complex interplay between political power and private interests but also underscore the challenges in untangling the web of acquisitions and transactions surrounding the Moi estate.

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