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Court declines to stop historical land injustice payout suits deadline

Activist Okiya Omtatah

Activist Okiya Omtatah at the Milimani Law Courts. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Activist Okiya Omtatah wanted the temporary order stopping NLC from shutting the door to fresh claims.
  • Mr Omtatah wanted the window of filing claims as well as the determination period to remain open.

The High Court has declined a request for an order to allow victims of historical land injustices present compensation claims to the National Land Commission (NLC) beyond the September 21 deadline.

Activist Okiya Omtatah wanted the temporary order stopping NLC from shutting the door to fresh claims.

He wanted the order to remain in force pending the hearing and determination of his case that is challenging the legality of the section of the land laws that limits the period within which a claim can be presented to NLC.

The law, as enacted by Parliament, provides that NLC will not be able to receive claims related to historical land injustice after September 21 and the Commission should determine the claims that will have been presented before May 1, 2022.

Mr Omtatah wanted the window of filing claims as well as the determination period to remain open.

But Justice Weldon Korir declined the request saying the decision on whether to grant the order for suspension of the law should be done after substantive hearing of the parties in the case.

The judge added there is no imminent danger as Kenyans can continue filing complaints at the NLC even after expiry of the time.

Mr Omtatah said that shutting of the door will deny Kenyans justice and they will be left with no recourse at the Judiciary.

He argued that the 10-year time limit stipulated in section 15(11) of the Act from May 2, 2012 makes it practically impossible that the NLC will have addressed the victims' grievances captured in reports such as Ndung’u, Akiwumi, Kiliku, Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) and the standard gauge railway (SRC) by September 21.

He said the Commission became fully functional in 2015 and has largely been underfunded, making it difficult for it to meet the deadline.

He further described as unconstitutional the time limits imposed through sections of the NLC Act on the period within which the Commission can handle the claims.

Mr Omtatah is also seeking for an order compelling Parliament to enact necessary corrective legislative amendments to the NLC Act and file a report in court within six months of the order being made.

The case will be mentioned on October.