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President Uhuru's Former Classmate Embroiled In A Land Tussle with A Thika Church.

The Munenes confronting the church officials to gain entry through the disputed road

A former classmate and personal friend to President Uhuru Kenyatta has been embroiled in a bitter boundary dispute - over a 6-metre wide access road to the complainant’s residence.

The family of Mr. Tony Njoroge Munene, a long time Thika businessman and the son of the Late Dr. J.F.C. Munene, is accusing A.C.K. Thika Memorial Church, who they share a common boundary, of illegally blocking their right of way into their residence by erecting a gate and fencing off his only entrance. This, he claims, has caused himself and his family uncalled for suffering since he has to beg for the right of entrance from their neighbour.

“This new church gate was concreted in and a barrier of barbed fencing put across the road, completely blocking off access to any vehicles and my family. The watchmen have been instructed not to let us use this entrance, forcing us to beg for entrance through our neighbour’s compound. The church’s argument is that they wanted the gates for security because they claim that they want to protect their area from a spate of thefts,” he said.

Tony says that the road in question is a public driveway, set aside to link both his residence and that of the church. He feels that the church has put the fence in the wrong place because it is relying on inaccurate land registry maps, which are not to be used for precise measurements on the ground.  To support his argument, he produced documents to the effect.

The official map from Survey of Kenya on which boundary lines are drawn and dated way back to 1922 and another one dated 1952 clearly shows a shared driveway from the Thika-Gatanga Road, which should specify the rights and obligations of both owners. According to the map, there is an access road from the main road that is shared between Land parcel No.2955/23/13/R which is an open public land that the church has now erected their main building, Parcel No. 2955/49 which is the actual plot allocated to the church, and Parcel No. 4988/19 which belongs to Tony’s family.

It is for this reason that Tony argues that in 1955, the church amalgamated the free public land to their church plot to the current Parcel No. 8928 without putting into consideration the road reserve. He argues that the land register and the deed plans clearly state that his family has a right of access over this access road.  He wondered why the church went ahead with what they wanted to do without considering their neighbour’s views or discussing the impact of the substantial interference with the neighbour’s rights of way.

Tony argued that common law recognises that the driveway should be used reasonably and, if there is excessive use - for instance, preventing a neighbour’s access to their property, the affected neighbour has a right to seek damages and an injunction. And that is exactly what he did.

He said that is why he went to court on 24th February to seek redress under Civil Case No. 178 of 2016, where an order by Hon. A. Lorot restrained the church, their servants or agents from blocking or in any way interfering with the access of L.R. No. 4988/19 pending inter-parties hearing on 11th march 2016. He says that the church was duly served with the order by Legal Court Server Lawyer Mbiu Kamau.

The Munenes say that their father, the Late Dr. J.F.C. Munene, bought the land in 1964 and have been living in harmony with the church ever since. Tony contends that his late father actually assisted the church with some parking lot all that time a factor Tony believes might have been the source of what triggered all this conflict.

“This has been our home since I was two years old. I have lived here all my life and have been accessing our home via this access road for over 51 years now. I started kindergarten in this church’s own compound before joining St Mary’s School in Standard Three where we learnt in the same class with the president all the way to university in the USA. The action that this church took against us was unjustified. How do you justify one blocking a road that you have used for all those years.. waking up one day to encounter the gate, slung shut with a chain and padlocks and a fence erected to block the way to your house?”
It reignites Tony’s irritation: “I’m just trying to access public lands,” he says. 

On her part, Libey Njoki Munene (78), the widow to the Late Munene, her problems with the church started five years after the demise of her husband on the 23rd December 2007 when she decided to curve off her part of land to let her son live independently from her. This meant fencing off the front of her gate, the portion she claims, was at times used by the church members as a parking lot.

She added that things got worse when the church claimed that the driveway to her son’s house crossed ‘their land’ illegally and ordered them to halt its usage. The situation simmered for a while and then flared up again last September. After months of back and forth, the church recently fenced off the entrance to Tony’s home and erected a gate at the main entrance.

The incident caused the relationship between the two parties to be frosty with Mrs. Munene claiming that ever since then, the church has been subjecting her and her son’s family to a vicious four-year harassment.

The Munenes reacting happily to the church's permission to Tony's compound
“Since 2012, I been locked in a turf war with this church over the small strip of land in front of my home. The boundary is marked out on the deeds and it is a mystery to me how it got to this stage. I’m just a widow who would be happy to be left alone and move on with my life. Just tell the church to let me live and mind my own business,” she said.

Reacting to these allegations on behalf of the church, its chairman Mr. Huruko Njau produced a document to the effect that the church and the Munene’s had previously engaged their surveyors in a bid to resolve this matter once and for all by defining the actual boundaries.

The document dated 10th September 2014 shows that the Munene family represented by their surveyor, Moses Ndung’u engaged with the church through Eric Ndung’u (surveyor) to ascertain the actual positions of all the beacons in the disputed plots. After that was done, the document says that the two parties agreed that the Munenes had actually encroached on the church’s compound by erecting a wall 0.2m into the church’s boundaries.

Mr. Huruko’s argued that theirs (church) was a one-and-a-half piece of land that had been bought in 1926. He claims that they used the re-aligned and revised map to ascertain the boundaries arguing that the Munenes were the ones refusing to honour their part of the bargain.

He said that the church will also seek a court order to pull down the part of Munene’s wall that had been erected on their land.

He also admitted to receiving Tony’s court order adding that they would obey it and wait for the jury to decide on the matter. However, he says that according to the map, the access road to the Munene’s compound had been hived from the compound.

Concerning that revelation, Tony denied ever being in any form of agreement with the church concerning the said dispute. He said that the agreement was between the church and his mother in relation to Plots No.4707 (church) and 8928 (his mother’s). He said that his was a dispute on the access road to his compound (4988) between him and the church.

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