Squatters decry of forceful eviction from Chepchoina settlement scheme

Some of the cattle that were shot dead during an attack on Chepchoina farm. An ownership row has erupted over the land formerly owned by Agricultural Development Corporation. [Irissheel Shanzu, Standard]
Hundreds of squatters have vowed to defy an order to move out of a settlement scheme rocked by an ownership row.

This comes after more than 200 squatters at Chepchoina settlement were forcibly evicted and their houses torched two weeks ago.

A number of livestock were shot dead during the eviction.

But the squatters have vowed to resist further evictions claiming they were given the land by former President Daniel arap Moi.

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Allotment letters

The squatters said they had legitimate allotment letters issued in 1994 and 1997. They claimed that each family was allocated five acres of land at the scheme, which was then under the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC).

An ownership row erupted at the scheme when another group of squatters emerged claiming to have allotment letters for the land.

The row has led to a clash between members of different communities claiming the land. Over the weekend, the squatters warned of looming violence if the ownership row was not solved.

They demanded the transfer of local administrators and security officers working in the area, accusing them of using Government machinery to oppress them.

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“Every year during the planting season security officers use force to plant on our farms, some leaders are also involved in bringing in land brokers to evict us every year,” said Anna Edung who claimed to have lived in the farm for 18 years.

The squatters said the ownership dispute had caused their families untold anguish.

“Some of our family members died due to the land dispute, some squatters gave up and moved to other places fearing for their lives, some of the squatters whose houses were burnt and are now living in the bushes, some moved to Uganda, we need justice to be done,” said Shadrack Wafula.

Proper procedure

Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto, who visited Katikomor, to ease tensions challenged the Government to address the dispute.

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He criticised the Ministry of Land for issuing allotment letters without following proper procedure.

Describing the dispute as a time bomb, Mr Moroto appealed to the new Lands Cabinet Secretary Faridah Karoney to intervene.

“I urge the North Rift regional coordinator to investigate some administration officers' involvement in the conflict. We have GSU, police, anti stock theft  officers and administration police, but their impact is not being felt. Why don’t they allow the squatters to cultivate the farms peacefully?” he posed.

The MP also wants the land commission office in the region investigated for its role in the ownership dispute.

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