Urgently hear our 25,000 acre land case, Mark Too's family ask Supreme Court

Landowners address the press during a consultative meeting at Ngara Falls in Kapseret Constituency Uasin Gishu County on December 9, 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The family of late politician Mark Too has asked the Supreme Court to expedite the determination of the dispute over ownership of 25,000-acre land in Eldoret.

The late Too's company Fanikiwa Limited through lawyer Fred Ngatia has written to Chief Justice Martha Koome requesting her to urgently constitute the Supreme Court to hear the matter to avert a potential clash between the land owners and squatters.

"The pendency of the appeal and deliberate acts of incitement which are circulating within Uasin Gishu are matters of great concern given the invasion which took place in the land and consequent acts of looting and destruction of properties," said Ngatia.

He stated that since the apex court had last week determined preliminary issues in which the court dismissed Sirikwa Squatters Group's application to strike out Too's widow Sophia Chemegen's affidavit.

The squatters through lawyer William Arusei made the application to strike out Chemegen's affidavit and her evidence over the land's ownership on the basis that it was filed without the court's permission. But the judges declined.

According to the judges, there was no intentional delay in filing the affidavit and that it was only fair to give all parties a fair chance to defend their claim to the land.

Ngatia applied to have the matter heard before the end of this month on the basis that the land affects the entire former Uasin Gishu district with numerous falsehoods being peddled that has resulted to anxiety for the genuine land owners.

"The anxiety is too much given that the land was originally owned by East African Tanning Extract and subsequently acquired by Lonrho East Africa before Fanikiwa Limited joined thousands of other people who purchased a portion," said Ngatia.

The dispute dates back to 2012 when Sirikwa Squatters Group sued the late Too's company Fanikiwa Limited for illegally taking over their land.

Environment and Land Court Judge Anthony Ombwayo in 2017 ruled in favour of the squatters and cancelled the titles held by Too's company before directing that the land be given to Sirikwa Squatters Group.

The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal in November last year after they dismissed Fanikiwa Limited's appeal.

It was what prompted Too's family to move to the apex court arguing that they do not agree with the findings of the lower courts on how land can be acquired.

"We believe that the hearing of the appeal can now proceed in earnest so as to give the Supreme Court a chance to adjudicate the dispute given the divergent positions taken by the parties," Ngatia said.

He added that since the apex court had also dismissed applications by other parties who wanted to join the dispute, it is only fair that the remaining parties be given an urgent hearing date to have the matter resolved with a finality.