State ordered to pay Kariobangi residents Sh100 million after illegal eviction

A resident of Kajiji village in Kariobangi North, Nairobi, ponders her next move after the government destroyed her house in May 2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The government is said to have notified the victims verbally about the impending demolitions. However, the state was accused of not having taken any measures to provide the thousands of people with food, temporary shelter, access to water and sanitation or any type of compensation.

It was estimated that more than 8,000 people were forcibly removed from their houses.

The court noted that the demolition was one of those instances where the Executive had defied court orders.

It emerged that then PSs for Sanitation and Irrigation and Lands and Physical Planning were served with court orders issued on May 3, 2020, stopping the demolitions, following the case that was filed by the Kariobangi Self Help Group.

The group had sued three PSs, Kasarani Deputy County Commissioner, Nairobi County Government, Chief Lands registrar and the Attorney General.

Human rights lobby

Kituo cha Sheria was listed in the case as an interested party, with lawyer John Mwariri, who represented the human rights lobby, telling the court that government representatives heartlessly made pregnant mothers and children homeless when the country was suffering under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic that had forced a lockdown.

State-run Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) was claiming the contested property.

It alleged that its land had been illegally occupied since 2008.

However, Kariobangi Self Help Group told the court that the Kasarani Deputy Commissioner formalized their ownership of the land by issuing its members with allotment letters.

Lease certificates

The judge heard that they went ahead to get lease certificates for each plot and there was proof that Nairobi County and the national government had acknowledged that the land had been legally transferred to them.

The demolition victims told the court that the government failed to issue notices before demolishing their houses during the 5 am incident. They told the court all they had heard were rumours about possible demolition.

"The respondents (three PSs, Attorney General) endangered our lives since they rendered us homeless during a crucial time when the country was facing a pandemic," Mr Isaak Abdi, one of the victims told the court.

Residents in Kajiji in Kariobangi North try to salvage their belongings after the government demolished their houses following a land dispute. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

He said that if they had been given a notice, they would have tried to salvage their household items before the bulldozers arrived.

The AG stated that the case was similar to another one that had been filed before the same court and was awaiting judgment.

He asserted that the land in question belonged to Nairobi County. He said there was a clear procedure for alienating government land and accused the self-help group members of encroaching a government property.

The AG stated that on April 23, 2007, he wrote to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Kasarani, to investigate letters and lease agreements that had been allegedly forged. However, the DCI confirmed that the documents were genuine.

No justification

Meanwhile, Kituo cha Sheria director Annette Mbogoh told the court there was no justification for the government to evict the residents in an inhumane way.

Dr Mbogoh stated that the government was acting contrary to the constitution as it is required to ensure each Kenyan has a roof over their head.

Justice Omollo found that the self-help group had proved that its members had genuine ownership documents to the land. She ordered thy they should be allowed back and put back to their former statuses within 90 days.