Omtatah saves airtstrip from land grabbers

by Wakili Liam
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Public defender Okiya Omtatah has won another case at the High Court

In a suit filed by the activist, the court has stopped any planned sale of parcels of land where Busia Airstrip stands, pending the determination of a case.

Justice Anne Omollo further suspended all cases touching on the subject land, pending the determination of Mr Omtatah’s case, who has challenged the validity of the titles acquired by persons claiming ownership of the land.

“From the foregoing analysis, I reach a finding that the application dated 24/5/2021 is merited,” the Judge said.

The Environment and Land court judge also barred 22 persons, who claim to have title deeds to sections of the land belonging to the airstrip, from occupying, cultivating or transferring the land to other parties.

Mr Omtatah filed the case saying unknown persons had placed an advertisement in the newspapers, intending to sell the land claiming it was private.

He told the court that some persons had irregularly acquired the land between 1980 and 1990 and obtained title deeds, yet it had been set aside for public use in the 1960s.

Busia County government supported Mr Omtatah and submitted that since the Busia plane crash accident in 2003, there has been no transfer of the land.

The court heard that individuals took advantage of the suspension of the use of the Airstrip to illegally invade, occupy and possess the Airstrip land and which they currently unlawfully claim ownership and have fraudulently obtained title deed.

Mr Joseph Ndungu Gitu, one of the persons who claim to own the land opposed the case saying the claims by Omtatah were based on hearsay without any relevant documentary evidence to show that it is public land.

Mr Gitu stated that there are absolute registered proprietors of the land and one of them had constructed a hotel known as Mulembe Hotel.

He claimed that the Kenya Airport Authority through a letter on May 14, 2019, indicated that they are not the owner of the land and that a decision was made to immediately relocate the airstrip to another location.

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