Maraga picks three-judge bench to hear Mau eviction case

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony issues relief food to Mau residents at Triangle area in Narok South on August 9, 2018. [Robert Kiplagat, Standard]

The four-month wait for the hearing of the Maasai Mau forest is over.

Chief Justice David Maraga has constituted a three-judge bench to hear Kericho Governor Paul Chepwony’s petition on evictions.

Governor Chepkwony and a section of Mau evictees led by Joseph Kimeto Ole Mapelu and others separately filed a petition at the Narok Lands and Environmental Court on July 12, 2018.

They asked the court to declare the recent Maasai Mau evictions illegal.

In a directive to the Narok Lands court on January 17, 2019, Maraga appointed the three-judge bench with Justice Sila Munyao (presiding) and Narok resident Judge Mohammed Kullow together with Justice George Ong’ondo.

On September 17, Judge Kullow told the court that due to the complexity of the Mau case, he shall be forwarding the file to Maraga to constitute a bench.

The case will come up for mention on February 18 at the Nakuru Lands Court and will be heard at the same court within a date to be set.

Judge Kullow issued the ruling on the application for Conservatory orders to halt the evictions.

He said the application had been overtaken by events as the eviction had already taken place.

But Chepkwony , through lawyer Peter Wanyama, stated 20 reasons why the evictions were done in an inappropriate manner.

The governor said the July 7 evictions were wrong and illegal.

He said it was in utter disrespect of property rights and human dignity.

The governor cited the affected group ranches as Reiyo, Enakishomi, Sisiyan, Enoosokon, and Nkaroni.

“The eviction is being done in the most inhumane manner. The security officers burn houses, livestock, and beat up property owners in a brazen display of impunity and high-handedness,” reads the petition.

In the petition Chepkwony accused government agencies of evicting residents who were several kilometers away from the forest.

“In 2008, the government created a huge cut line to separate the group ranches and the forest.

Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation, a statutory agency, was allocated the land that borders the forest. They have planted tea on this land.

“There is a huge land cut line that separates the private owners in the former group ranches and the Mau Forest. The private owners have lawful title deeds,” the petition continues.

The governor cited the Lands and the Interior ministries as well as the KWS, KFS, Attorney General and Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya as respondents.

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Kericho Governor Paul ChepkwonyMauMaasai Mau evictionsNakuru Lands CourtLands