Chaka Limited lawyer Ham Lagat / FILE PHOTO.

A city businesswoman has lost a 10 year legal battle for ownership of prime land in Woodley, Nairobi County, which had been allocated to her husband by the defunct Nairobi City Council to carry on business.

Grace Wairimu, the widow of the late Francis Sorora Oloitiptip, will now have to vacate the property along Joseph Kang’ethe Road at the risk of forcible eviction. She is required to pay Sh100,000 to Chaka Ltd which was represented by lawyer Ham Lagat as nominal damages for trespass.

The late Sorora had instituted the suit on July 19, 2007 claiming ownership but died before the hearing of the case. Wairimu substituted him five years later seeking to be declared the rightful owner by adverse possession on the basis that she had occupied the land for more than 12 years.

Wairimu sued the council on July 14, 2010, after she was threatened with eviction and claimed she had been licenced to operate Zam Zam Bar. She later sued Chaka Ltd. The collapsed pan Africa Credit and Finance, businessman Ashford Kang’ethe who owned Toi Education Services and Bridging Savings and Credit Co-operative Society by accusing him of fraudulent transfer of the land.

However, High Court Judge Pauline Nyamweya ruled that the Sororas started living on the property in 1985 but other squatters invaded the land in 1995. The Judge found documentary evidence produced by Wairimu constituted forgeries and ordered her to leave the property to its rightful owners.

The Court of Appeal has upheld Justice Nyamweya’s findings that the land was originally registered in the name of Kibicho Ltd in March 1983 and was immediately charged to the collapsed Pan Africa Credit and Finance to secure a loan of Sh4million that was never repaid. The property was sold to Chaka Ltd in exercise of the bank’s statutory power of sale.

Appellate Judges Alnashir Visram, Martha Koome and Jamilla Mohamed held that Sorora entered the property with the permission of the council in a letter dated August 20, 1985. “The role [;layed by the council as a local authority did not help Wairimu’s case because she was merely licenced to carry on business and in our view, that did not give rise to a claim of ownership of the land,” they said.

The documents produced by Wairimu to confirm her status as the owner of the land were found to be forgeries. “The documents were rightly rejected as forgeries that were merely contrived to support a claim of adverse possession that did not meet the legal threshold,” the Appellate Judges observed.

Chaka Limited was represented by lawyer Ham Lagat.