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Land registrar fined Sh.1 million for land fraud

A  Kabarnet  Court  has fined a former land registrar at Baringo Central land offices Sh.10 million or one year imprisonment for land fraud and abuse of office offenses.

Augustine Koros  was accused that on diverse dates between April 4,1997 and September 1,1997, while still in the Public Service as Land Registrar he committed the said offences contrary to section 101 (11) as read with section 102 (A) of the penal code.

The  Court heard that on the stated dates, the accused colluded with one, the late Reuben Cheruiyot to illegally reproduce a new title deed without the consent of the original land owner Mark Kipruto Chemjor  who had assisted Cheruiyot with the document to use it to secure a bank loan.

The complainant is said to have handed over a copy of his title deed to the second accused and remained with the original copy and he signed some documents which he did not comprehend in the Lands office in the presence of the first accused.

The  former Land  Registrar, the  court  further heard, knew very well that the complainant was transferring the land to  Reuben Cheruiyot and not for the purposes of a securing a loan as alleged.

The  prosecution told the court that the complainant was conned by the accused persons who made him to blindly sign the documents which he thought were meant to help Cheruiyot secure the said loan which later turned out to be a deal of transferring the land.

In  cross  examination, the prosecution  asked  the  accused  to explain the procedure of  transferring a piece of land before  issuing  a new title , adding  that, “In  normal circumstance the owner of the original title deed is summoned to  surrender  the document to the Lands office which then proceed in canceling it before issuing a new one to the new owner.”

The  prosecution counsel  said that instead of the embattled former district land registrar following the due process as required in law, he failed to advise the complainant about his duty which was contrary to his mandate as a land registrar, a move which amounted to abuse of office.

The  prosecution added that the accused also failed to explain how his co-accused was issued with a new title yet the one bearing the name of the original land owner, Chemjor, was still in existence.

The  complainant, while testifying said that he was not summoned by the land registrar to surrender his title as he had not sold his land to Reuben.

In  his ruling, the Senior Principal Magistrate (SPM), Paul Biwott  said that the prosecution had proved the case beyond reasonable doubts and proceeded to hand over a 10-year jail term to the accused.

However, the accused who had pleaded not guilty to the charges, in mitigation prayed the court to treat him with leniency,  claiming that he was a widower after his two wives died leaving him with 14 children with the little one being in class two.

He  had also pleaded with the court for forgiveness or to allow him to serve a non custodian sentence in order to take care of the children who are still in school.

It   was  after considering the mitigation facts that  the SPM reduced the fine to Sh.1million or one year jail term.

He  could not raise the fine immediately and was sent to Kabarnet GK prison to commence his jail term.

By  Irine  Bartonjo/Joshua  Kibet

 

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