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No going back to Mau, court tells evictees

By Julius Chepkwony | Jan 22nd 2020 | 3 min read
Lawyer Kimutai Bosek (left) talks to some of the Mau Forest evictees after the hearing of their case at the Nakuru High Court yesterday. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Over 3,300 people evicted from the Maasai Mau Forest in November 2019 will stay out of the disputed land until a case they filed in court is determined. 

Yesterday, a three-judge bench sitting in Nakuru declined to issue conservatory orders sought by the families to compel the government to allow them to stay in the forest.

In a joint ruling read by Justice Sila Munyao, the judges noted that a similar application seeking to stop the eviction had been filed, heard and determined by a competent court and, therefore, could not be pursued further.

Other judges in the case were Mohammed Kullow and Ongondo George. Munyao said the hands of the court are tied and cannot sit on an appeal and went further to dismiss the application with cost.

“Application is dismissed with costs. A similar application had been filed, heard and determined and our hands are tied, cannot sit on an appeal,” said Justice Munyao.

A similar application had been filed in July 18, 2018 to stop the eviction in the first phase. Over 500 people had moved to court and sued the government. The evictees, through lawyer Kimutai Bosek and Humphrey Manyange, claimed they are legal title holders and the eviction was an infringement on their rights.

Bosek said the evictees are land owners with relevant land documents and not mere papers as purported by a section of government officials.

“The evictees are land owners with title documents issued to them by relevant land office. A title deed is a powerful land document,” Bosek said.

The lawyer said that though the government had applied for cancellation of less than 600 title deeds, those evicted from the forest were more than 3,000 people.

Bosek said the government has no case as the land in dispute is not a government land but a trust land, which had been adjudicated and titles issued to individuals.

He argued that if the government, in seeking cancellation of the titles, was to be taken serious it would have not evicted the people and planted trees on the land. The decision to evict, he said, was in bad faith.

The lawyer told the court that the government did not issue an eviction notice as required, did not issue a Gazette notice or advertise in any paper or broadcast that there would be an eviction.

No gazette notice

“The government before the evictions did not announce, there was no Gazette notice to reach all the people,” he said. He added that the Ministry of Interior has no such powers and that the State ought to explain where Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya got the powers to issue eviction orders.

“The State needs to tell us which powers George Natembeya has to issue orders against valid ownership documents, affecting the lives of over 60,000 people,” he said.

Lawyer Manayange on his part said the court should intervene as the government, even in the documents before court, had not exhibited what powers Narok County Commissioner and Rift Valley Regional Commissioner had to order for eviction.

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