Efforts by a ranching company to bar the government from subdividing 33,000 acres for residents of Tigania West, Meru County, flopped after the High Court dismissed its petition.
Akithi Ranching Company Ltd has been laying claim to the land bordering Isiolo County that includes parts of the Isiolo International Airport.
More than 3,300 residents of Rwanda Location were enjoined in the petition as interested parties. The 33-year lease for the land within Kiare Adjudication section expired in 2015.
Justice Charles Yano on February 15 dismissed the petition, noting that the case had no merit.
Justice Yano stated that the same matter had been heard and determined by the same court in a petition filed in 2012.
The ranching company shareholders moved to court in 2018 and sued the district land adjudication and settlement officers for Tigania East and Tigania West, Meru County government, Meru County Commissioner, Attorney General and the National Land Commission.
In the petition, Akithii wanted any actions by the lands officers, Meru County government and the county commissioner on the 33,000 acres, be declared unconstitutional, arbitrary, null and void.
The petitioners also wanted the National Land Commission held to account for failing to renew the lease for the ranch, terming the move discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Akithi Ranching Company also wanted the respondents barred from subdividing, transferring, leasing or allocating the land.
In the court document, Mr Benjamin Mwilaria, a shareholder, stated that the company leased the land from Meru County Council in 1982.
“…in or about the year 1991, the District Land Adjudication and Settlement Officer started interfering with the land by declaring it an adjudication area, subdividing and allocating to non-members…” the petitioners argued.
He says later in 2009, the County Council of Nyambene allocated part of the land to Kenya Airports Authority for establishment of the Isiolo Airport.
The ranching company argued that the lands office has continued to subdivide and distribute the land to their individuals, warning that the move may result in anarchy.
However, the Ministry of Lands told the court that the land was declared an adjudication section on October 15, 2009.
“…the gazette notice called upon all those that had an interest within the adjudication Section to present their claim to the recording officer either in person or by a duly authorized agent within six months from the date of the notice and that there was no such claim from the petitioner…” the lands office argued.
More than 12,000 plots are said to have been subdivided for the members of Kiare community.
The ministry further argues that the petitioner did not raise an objection in 2020 when the New Kiare Adjudication Section register was published for inspection.
Mr Timothy Kaaria, from the Meru County government, told the court that the ranching company did not have a right over the land after the expiry of the lease in 2015.
He added that residents were already living and had extensively developed the land.