Meru judge to simultaneously listen to seven Isiolo plots disputes

Meru ELC judge Lucy Mbugua at her court on May 21, 2019. Justice Mbugua was feted by the Judiciary Performance Management Directorate as the best performing judge in country in the rate of resolving filed cases in the period 2017/18 after she recorded a 268 percent rate in clearing backlogs.
The court has ordered the director of survey to visit Mwangaza and Kiwanjani estates in Isiolo town that have been dogged by land ownership disputes.

The order came after Meru Land and Environment Court judge Lucy Mbugua listened to legal arguments of eight lawyers representing hundreds of litigants in claims against the plot allotment in Isiolo going back several decades.

The earliest claim was filed in 2011.

Yesterday's presentations painted a picture of chaotic plot allotment in Isiolo, with the county’s lands department warning that ownership disputes could result in violence.

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The litigants have lodged claims against several Government agencies and Isiolo county government.

The claims include those filed by hundreds of persons displaced during the construction of Isiolo International Airport.

Case respondents

Respondents include the Attorney General (AG), National Land Commission (NLC) and the Isiolo District Lands Registrar.

Earlier, Lady Justice Mbugua had directed that all the cases be heard jointly.

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The joint hearing was first suggested by lawyer Janet Kung’u who appears for the AG and the KAA. NLC is yet to make an appearance in the cases.

The Isiolo county government last month filed a response in one case involving thousands of disputed plots in Mwangaza.

In his affidavit, the county’s chief officer for lands and planning, Rashid Mude Arale, conceded that the land ownership was fast becoming an explosive issue in the area.

Mr Arale said some residents were holding ownership documents for plots settled by others.

Arale's three-page affidavit painted a picture of chaotic land allotment in Isiolo town over the decades.

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He also confirmed to the court that the expedited titling of land in the town, under the Rapid Results Initiative, was underway, and warned that any attempts to stop it could trigger violence.

The parties in the case also agreed by consent to make written submissions on a preliminary application filed in one of the cases.

The case comes up again on July 18.

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