The dispute between city tycoon Mike Kamau and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko over the demolition of residential houses in Kayole estate has taken a new twist after the businessman sued the county boss over an explosive phone call recording.
Mr Kamau, the owner of Marble Arch Hotel, accuses Mr Sonko of releasing a recording of their phone conversation in which he insulted the businessman, initiating social media attacks that he claims damaged his reputation and image.
The dispute started in December after Muthithi Investments Ltd, owned by Mr Kamau, started demolishing houses built on a 20-acre plot in Nairobi’s Kayole estate.
The governor called the businessman and in a leaked private conversation threatened to demolish part of his hotel, which he said is built on grabbed land.
The firm had earlier obtained a court order to evict the occupants from the plot.
“Pending the hearing of the application inter-parties, a temporary injunction be issued directed at the defendant restraining him from making any defamatory statements and/or making any defamatory publications in reference to the plaintiffs,” reads one of the orders sought by Mr Kamau.
He wants the governor ordered to delete a Facebook post in which he allegedly claims that the businessman misled the court using forged documents.
The businessman says the phone call recording, which was widely circulated, and the Facebook post, were meant to depict him as someone who is violent, corrupt, and has misled the court using fake documents which is a criminal offence under the Penal Code.
“The continued defamation has spread through social media like wild fire to the extent on December 20, 2018, the 1st plaintiff (Mr Kamau’s) name was trending on Twitter following the circulation of the (call recording) video,” says the businessman.
Mr Kamau is seeking general damages for libel, slander and loss of business.
He notes that the governor failed to verify the authenticity of his title deed and the ownership of the disputed plot.
He has reproduced the transcript of the phone recording allegedly shared online by the governor and the Facebook post as evidence.
The governor in the phone call gave Mr Kamau two hours to surrender the public toilet and fire station land he says the businessman grabbed.
Mr Kamau’s Marble Arch Hotel sits next to Nairobi’s Fire Station offices.
Mr Kamau’s suit comes a day after more than 10,000 families whose homes were destroyed in the December demolitions at Nyama Villa Estate in Kayole, sued him for compensation.
The families are accusing his company, Muthithi Investments Limited, of invading their property, which left them without an opportunity to salvage their personal possessions. They say they were left homeless.
In documents filed in court, the families say they were entitled to a reasonable notice before the eviction was carried out.
Other than compensation, the families are also seeking suspension of orders directing their eviction.