The High Court has issued a warrant of arrest for Dubai-based real estate moguls Poosapati Ramachandra Raju Sita and Mohamud Mahat Noor, who are behind the construction of what will be Africa’s tallest building, after they failed to appear for sentencing in a contempt of court case.
High Court judge Samson Okong’o on Wednesday issued the warrant after the duo skipped a mention in which they were to plead for a lighter sentence.
Mr Sita, Mr Noor and their company, White Lotus Projects, were found in contempt of court last December for proceeding with the construction of Pinnacle Tower in Upper Hill, Nairobi, in violation of two court orders issued in 2017.
VICIOUS LAND BATTLE
The contempt application is just part of a vicious land battle pitting Ugandan tycoon James Mugoya and a trust started by former United Arab Emirates leader Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan against Hass Petroleum Group.
Pinnacle Tower is a Sh20 billion mixed-use development by a subsidiary of Hass Petroleum Group and White Lotus Projects. Standing 300 metres tall, it will be Africa’s tallest building upon completion.
Justice Okong’o’s ruling stems from a case filed by Kingorani Investments Ltd, owned by Mr Mugoya and Sheikh Nahyan’s trust.
Mr Mugoya and Sheikh Nahyan’s trust sued the companies and individuals building Pinnacle Tower, saying they own part of the land on which it stands. White Lotus has also been using the disputed land to store construction equipment and materials.
Mr Mugoya and Sheikh Nahyan’s trust accused White Lotus of clearing the disputed land and starting excavation in preparation for construction.
MAINTAIN STATUS QUO
But Mr Noor argued that the court orders issued earlier directed the parties to maintain the status quo, arguing that it could be interpreted to mean construction could continue.
But Justice Okong’o ruled that the orders were clear, and they stopped any activity on the disputed land.
“There is no doubt from this statement (Mr Noor’s) that White Lotus and Becs Consultancy continued to be in possession and use of the suit property after the orders of January 9, 2017, and October 16, 2017, were issued and in contravention thereof,” the judge ruled.
“It is my finding that White Lotus Projects, Mr Sita and Mr Noor are in contempt of the orders issued on October 9 and 16, 2017. They have continued to enter and use the suit property despite express court orders prohibiting them from doing so. Kingorani Investments did not place any material before the court showing how the other respondents breached the court orders in question,” he added.
Other respondents in the case who survived the contempt order were Abbas Ibrahim Khalif, Iota Excavations and Rentals Ltd, China State Construction Corporation, Sketch Studio Ltd, Matrix Integrated Consultancy, Terra Consult Kenya and Becs Consultancy.
Mr Mugoya claimed in an affidavit that Kingorani Investments owned the land until December 10, 1998, when it was fraudulently transferred to Sigma Ltd. He further claims that Sigma transferred to Garanco Five Ltd, which granted White Lotus permission to build Pinnacle Tower.
After obtaining court orders barring the construction of the tower, Kingorani served copies on all defendants in the case and also posted copies of the documents on the perimeter wall of the disputed land.
Mr Noor acknowledged that there was a wall, a section of which was brought down by unknown individuals, and that is all his firm did was repair it.
He added that the respondents in the contempt application are just consultants, and that orders were not served on specific individuals.