A British lawyer in Kenya has been shot at, held at gunpoint and threatened with prison after a local politician seized a $6million(Sh601m) plot of land from his dead client.
British expat Guy Elms, 52, drew up a will for Roger Robson, the owner of the six-acre estate in Nairobi who died in 2012.
Robson intended to leave most of his estate to charity but businesswoman Agnes Kagure Kariuki, who was in contention for the deputy governorship of Nairobi, occupied the property and claimed she had bought it a year earlier.
Since December 2014 the property has been occupied by Kariuki’s men and Mr Elms has been held at gunpoint with his wife, had his house ransacked and threatened with imprisonment for allegedly forging the will.
Elms moved from Thurrock, Essex, to Kenya in 1994, and in 1997 drew up the will for Robson, who was born in the country when it was still a British colony and lived in Nairobi all his life
Robson, who died aged 71 with no children, wanted to leave his estate to wildlife charities and to give some money to his English nephew.
But not long after his death, Agnes Kagure Kariuki – who was on a shortlist for the deputy governorship of Nairobi – claimed she bought his house in Karen, a suburb of Nairobi bordering the Ngong Forest Reserve, for Sh100 million in cash.
As part of this land grab Elms was told by police and prosecutors he would be charged with forging his client’s will if he continued to try and sell the estate and divide it between Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Forest Service and an education charity.
Mr Robson was born in colonial-era Kenya and held a number of different careers, including running a petrol station, instructing a car safety course and landscaping.
He was passionate about the environment and as he did not have any children or marry, he wanted to leave his estate to wildlife charities and organizations that helped educate young Kenyans, as well as to give some money to his nephew.
Since the long-running legal dispute, the block of six flats was knocked down and the tenants were all evicted, Elms said.
During attempts to seize the land, which included Robson’s house and another site which had a block of six flats in the downtown Upper Hill area near Nairobi Hospital, various groups tried to claim ‘squatters rights’.
One of these groups included a gospel singer described as ‘the most famous Kenyan musician’ called Ringtone – real name Alex Apoko – who claimed his uncle owned the property.
He emptied Robson’s belongings into trucks and occupied the one-storey house from June 2014, changed the locks and tried to find the original property deeds.
His Instagram account is littered with Christian messages alongside pictures of the singer posing next to expensive cars while wearing flash clothes and jewelery.
Elms called the police and those officers refused to take action, but the singer and his entourage finally left the property.
Since December 2014 the property has been occupied by Kariuki’s men who built a huge wall around the edge of the land a year later, preventing anyone from looking in from the roadside.
When Elms went to the edge of the land he was threatened by men occupying the house.
During his life, Robson claimed groups of squatters were trying to take his land, but Elms said he dismissed his client’s concerns as ‘far-fetched’.
Robson was beaten on two occasions and even shot in the head in 1992, which lead him to place power of attorney with Elms in 2010.
Elms told MailOnline: “He was an eccentric character. He would tell me people were trying to steal his land, I was a bit sceptical and it seemed a little far-fetched. I had no idea what I was in for.
“He was a typical white Kenyan, he had property but not a lot of cash.
“I suspect the reason they targeted Roger’s land was that he was white, a recluse and did not have any obvious relatives in the area.
“I think this is not the first time it’s happened. I think some elderly whites are regarded as vulnerable and they are targeted to see what they can get away with.
“If no one stops them they see if they [land cartels] can grab it. I have come across this three or four other times at least and I’m sure there are others.”
In 2013, Francis Odinga Waluchio and Friencrich Peitz also filed claims of ownership of the property in Karen after claiming to have purchased it in 1994, using a fraudulent conveyance bearing a forged signature of Robson.
Even though Elms obtained a court order in July 2015 instructing Ms Kariuki to leave Mr Robson’s house, she still occupies it as police failed to enforce the order.
She claims she bought the land in 2011 for well below the market value but did not register the purchase until 2014.
Bank records also showed at the time of his death Robson only had around $5,000 in his account.
In 2011 there were two other attempts to steal Robson’s land while he was still alive, one incident was by a group claiming ‘squatter’s right’.
During a separate incident, Elms and his wife were held at gunpoint in their home while five men ransacked their house.
Elms said: “Around 18 months ago I was told in no uncertain terms to give up the land and the fight and that if I didn’t their contacts, which are high up in the CID and DPP, would make sure I was arrested and jailed for 17 years.
“They said they controlled this country and that [you’re the wrong tribe]. I have had absolutely no help from the organs of state, in fact the government institutions have gone out of their way to assist and protect the guilty. It’s tiring, stressful and incredibly frustrating.
“All I wanted to do was sell the land and give the money to charity and send some money to the nephew.
“I’m getting no benefit from this whatsoever and I was extremely tempted to give up and run for the hills, but a Kenyan friend of mine said, we can’t let them get away with this or they’ll carry on stealing land.”
“So I decided to hand myself in at the police station and say you want to charge me? Go on then charge me”.
“I’ve been pressured from every single angle. The police have done nothing to help me. The whole thing is crazy, it’s Kafkaesque.'”
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office charged Elms with forgery in September 2017 after he lost a bid to stop his prosecution at the high court.
He is accused of forging Roger Robson’s will, as well as the Power of Attorney (POA) given to him by Robson in 2010.
But he is continuing to fight a criminal case as well as a civil dispute over the ownership.
One of the forged documents used by Kariuki to claim ownership of the property dated from 2014 included an old picture of Robson in his 30s alongside his signature from the 1960s.
Experts compared the signatures in March 2015 and found Robson’s estate has been targeted by, ‘fraudsters working for influential people in the government’ and a ‘cohort with criminal goons enjoying political and police protection’.
In one document Robson’s name was even spelt wrong and whoever filled it in had a ‘higher pen speed’ than the 71-year-old, the report said.
The report also argued police demonstrated inaction in several other reported cases of a similar nature in Nairobi.
Antipas Nyanjwa, deputy director of investigations and forensic services at the National Land Commission found in his report of February 2017, that Elms was, ‘a victim of the criminal gangs and land cartels’ and had been targeted by a ‘criminal investigation for non-existent crimes and malicious prosecution in trumped-up charges’.
The National Land Commission report also stated that the 2011 conveyance presented by Kariuki was an ‘outright forgery’ as it contained several discrepancies.
But despite these findings he still faces five charges including forging a will, forging a power of attorney, two counts of giving a ‘false utterance’ regarding the first two charges and one count of demanding property with a forged instrument.
COURTESY- DAILY MAIL