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Football star Mariga sued over prime Nairobi land

Italy-based Kenyan international footballer McDonald Mariga is entangled in a vicious land dispute with a real estate developer who accuses him of illegally invading a prime plot in Nairobi’s Embakasi area.

Hexmead Investments has sued the Harambee Stars and Parma FC player for allegedly invading the land it claims to have bought in 1994 and for which it has a title.

The firm says it discovered that Mr Mariga and his family had started constructing a building on the disputed property in 2008 and only stopped when a demand letter was sent to his father.

The developer says in papers filed at the Nairobi court that the Mariga family has since returned to the contested plot with the intention of resuming its development.

VALID OWNER

Hexmead wants the court to intervene and to be declared the valid owner of the disputed property.

“Upon receipt of the demand letter in 2008, the defendants stopped construction on the suit property. In 2010, the defendants again wrongfully entered a portion of the land and have threatened to proceed with construction work they abandoned earlier,” Hexmead property manager Lawrence Karuri said.

The Mariga family is yet to respond to the suit or even appear in court.

Hexmead says in court that it has served Mr Mariga’s parents -Noah and Mildred – with the court papers at their New Kariokor home, but that they have not responded to the suit despite undertaking to do the same.

Hexmead has attached a copy of the title deed it claims to have acquired after purchasing the land in 1994, alongside photos of the partially built structures allegedly constructed by the Mariga family.

Hexmead says it has had trouble furnishing Mr Mariga with the court papers as it has been difficult tracing him owing to his footballing career that keeps him out of the country most of the time.

It first served Mr Mariga in November 2011, more than a year after filing the suit.

FINANCIAL TROUBLES

Mr Mariga’s Serie A side Parma has been facing financial troubles and possible liquidation.

Mr Mariga is one of Kenya’s most successful footballers having been the first and only Kenyan to have won the Italian and UEFA Champions League titles – a feat he achieved in 2010 while playing for Inter Milan.

In 2012, Mr Mariga was named the 16th top earning footballer in Africa, after clocking the $1.3 million (Sh118 million) a year mark.

Mr Mariga’s younger brother, Victor Wanyama, also made history by becoming the first Kenyan to play in the English Premier League after he signed for Southampton in 2013.

Justice Louis Onguto on Tuesday ordered Hexmead to prosecute the case in six months or risk its termination as the matter has failed to proceed to hearing since it was filed. It has been adjourned on four separate occasions.

The hearing was last postponed in December 2013 following a shortage of judges.

Hexmead says that it has since the last adjournment tried to settle the matter out of court, but that negotiations with Mariga’s parents fell through.

OUT OF COURT

“In 2014, there were attempts to negotiate an out- of- court settlement of this case but the same were not finalised. From the foregoing, it is evident that the plaintiff has always been and is still keen on prosecuting the case,” Hexmead’s lawyers said.

The company says in court papers that it found out that Mr Mariga and his family were behind the alleged invasion of the property after it instructed Inter-Scope Loss to investigate and establish the names and physical addresses of the “invaders”.

Hexmead says it fears that the Mariga family may continue with construction as they are yet to remove equipment or demolish the structures they had started putting up on the land.

“The defendants have stationed a guard at the entrance to the suit property with instructions that nobody should be granted access thereto. Their actions have denied Hexmead access to and use of the suit property,” Mr Karuri adds.

The firm also wants the Marigas to pay damages for trespass on the land, and the costs it has incurred in instituting the suit aside from a restraining order barring them from occupying the property.