A public school within Kitale town is on the verge of losing part of its land that is being claimed by a local tycoon who used his position as the chairman of Parents’ Teachers Association (PTA) in 1983 to reserve it as private land.
Mr. Nathaniel Tum wants to hive off 10 hectares at Kitale School (a complex with an ECDE center, primary school and secondary school) which includes a girl’s dormitory, sewage system near boy’s dormitory and a tree nursery in the wake of a legal back and forth over the ownership.
According to the primary school head teacher Emel Sitienei, the former chairman was spotted with a team of surveyors within the school on september 30 with an intention of fencing off the part of the land which he claims is part of his land.
The institution which was established by colonialists occupied about 55 hectares of land in 1973. About 2 hectares were surrendered in the 70s to improve the turn off to the Kitale-Webuye Road.
During Tum’s tenure the School applied for an allotment of land and title deed where he offered to help fast track the process of acquiring the title. The land was surveyed and the school was allotted 44 hectares and a title deed issued.
The other 9 hectares occupied by the school was left as public land upon which he then applied for private land from reserved as public land and was allotted about 4 hectares and issued with a title deed in 1994.
The school complained that he had infringed on the said land already occupied upon which another survey was done. He was issued with a new title to exclude the same but the sewage system and pit latrines remains on his land.
The school wrote to the Commissioner of Lands complaining that public land required for expansion for a Secondary School and Tertiary institution had been transferred to private hands.
On May 10, 2010, the Commissioner of Lands cancelled the title deed of Mr. Tum by gazette notice before the new constitution came into force. The Ndung’u Land Report also reported the matter and recommended that the land be reverted back to the school for public use.
Mr. Tum moved to the High Court in Kitale where Justice Joseph Karanja ruled that the proprietary rights on the land cannot be taken away from him by judicial review as he had acquired the land procedurally in accordance with the law and there is sanctity of title deeds.
The school appealed the ruling and the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that judicial review was not the remedy whether the title was acquired legally or illegally.
The remedy was in the National Land Commission to review whether the allotment and title issuance process was properly followed, and if not, then they have the legal authority to revoke the title deed.
The school has through the chairman of the Board of Management Bishop Emmanuel Chemengich written severally to the National Lands Commission for redress but no response had been forthcoming.