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Koinange Family Petitions High Court to Demolish Village Market and Tribe Hotel Over Land Row

Koinange Family Petitions High Court to Demolish Village Market and Tribe Hotel Over Land Row

The
Koinange family has petitioned the High Court to have the upmarket Village
Market
and Tribe Hotel
demolished, claiming that the mall’s owners took their land in a property
dispute that sucked in KCB Group.

Greenhills
Investment, which owns the mall and is associated with the Ehsami brothers, is
being evicted by the children of former provincial commissioner Charles Karuga
Koinange.

They
claim that the owners of the Village Market and Tribe Hotel must have obtained
the title to the land fraudulently and should thus be evicted and ordered to
pay them damages for illegal occupation or compensation at current market
rates.

The
Koinange family wants Greenhills’ Sh8.5 billion loan from KCB Group to develop
Village Market declared invalid.

Greenhills
claims that the prime land is theirs according to State records, and they have
asked the High Court to order the Land Registrar to name them as the owners of
the property in the lawsuit.

The
Village Market was one of Nairobi’s first shopping malls when it opened almost
30 years ago. It began with ten stores, continued to grow, and has remained a
well-liked location with hundreds of outlets over the years.

According
to the mall’s owners, they purchased the seven-acre parcel of land with a lot
of coffee bushes to build the shopping center, which is thought to be worth
more than Sh15 billion.

The
land is valued at Sh1.6 billion, highlighting the stakes in the real estate
conflict that bankers will be closely following.

The
Koinanges want the vacant land and a part of the profits that the Ehsami
brothers—Abbas, the oldest, Mehraz, an architect, and Hamed, the youngest—have
earned from Village Market over the years.

“In
the alternative, full compensation to the plaintiff at market value or current
valuation of the suit property,” the family says in the petition.

Back
in the 1990s, when Gigiri was considered far from the city, the Ehsami brothers
strategized well to gain customers.

Gigiri,
as a location, proved to be advantageous as well.

The
mall’s proximity to diplomatic residences and United Nations offices made it a
favorite shopping destination for foreign dignitaries with discerning tastes.

The
petition will be heard by the High Court beginning on Wednesday, and it will
add to the strings of property battles fought by the larger Koinage family
in recent years.

Mr
Koinange, who served as a senior chief and later as a provincial commissioner,
was the younger brother of former powerful minister in the Jomo Kenyatta
government, Mbiyu Koinange.

He
died in 2004, leaving behind a multibillion-dollar estate that included land,
stock in various companies, money in bank accounts, and other investments worth
more than Sh15 billion.

His
polygamous family had been fighting over property distribution for two years
before reaching an agreement after appointing a mediator to oversee estate
distribution.

Koinange
family lawyer, Ashford Mugwuku, says the property has been listed for
distribution to the beneficiaries but the process cannot be undertaken because
of illegal transactions, including the charge of the property at KCB.

“In
the interest of justice, it is necessary to grant the orders sought to
forestall further illegal dealings or transactions on the subject property and
to preserve the subject matter of this suit,” Mr Mugwuku says in court
documents.

The
family claims it has never sold or transferred the property since their late
father acquired it.

The
family has tabled a lease dated November 16, 1983 to back up their claims.

Mr
Mugwuku goes on to say that the family has filed numerous complaints with the
police, but they have never investigated the matter, and that requests for
information from Greenhills Investment have also been ignored.

“The
defendants have refused or failed to account, render requested information of
particulars pertaining to this claim despite written complaints and demands by
the plaintiffs,” the lawyer says.

Greenhills
Investment wants to include the Chief Land Registrar and the Attorney-General
in the multi-billion-shilling suit.

According
to Sanjay Shah, an executive with the investment firm, the Chief Land Registrar
must be included in the suit as the custodian of all titles and searches.

He
maintains that Greenhills is the rightful owner of the property, claiming that
it relied on the chief land registrar’s register and searches before purchasing
the prime land.

Mr
Shah claims that the Registrar will assist the court in making a fair decision
in the case.

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