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New judges for wind farm case

An armed man standing at the Lake Turkana Wind farm
An armed man standing at the Lake Turkana Wind farm. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Chief Justice David Maraga has appointed a new three-judge bench to hear a land case between Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd and Marsabit residents after the previous judges recused themselves.

Justices Peter Muchoki Njoroge of Chuka Law Courts, Yuvinalis Angima based at Meru Law Courts and Lady Justice Grace Kemei of Murang’a said they would hear the matter from January 20 to January 23, 2020.

Numerous delays

They observed that the case against the firm had been pending in court for over five years after being marred by constant adjournments and reading of rulings, thus delaying it.

Justice Njoroge observed that the matter had registered 39 appearances, out of which only 13 recorded actual hearing while the remaining were either for mentions or delivering rulings on some applications.

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He said the four days allocated were enough to listen to evidence from the two remaining witnesses and conclude the matter.

The case stalled in July after Justice Boaz Olao, Justice Enock Cherono and Lady Justice Lucy Mbugua disqualified themselves from the matter after a lawyer questioned their impartiality and allegedly used “intemperate language and disparaging remarks”.

The judges also agreed to reverse a decision to lock out all members of the public made by the previous judges after an interpreter said she had been threatened.

Eighteen witnesses have already testified in the case where a section of Marsabit County residents claim that Lake Turkana Wind Power Limited was irregularly allocated their ancestral land.

Community claim

Mr Mohamed Itarakwa, Mr Kochale Jomo Jale, Mr Issa Jitengwe Gambare and Mr David Tomasot Arakhole filed the case.

They claim that the acquisition was not done in accordance with the Trust Land Act and the Constitution and thus want it nullified and the land to revert to the community.

The residents say they cannot access the expansive land for grazing, and want nullification of the title deed issued to the wind power company which seeks to inject 310mw into the national grid.

They have enjoined the Marsabit County government, the Attorney -General, the Chief Land Registrar and the National Land Commission as respondents.

Yesterday, lawyer Amina Hashi, appearing for the plaintiffs, also unsuccessfully applied for the court to issue her with handwritten notes of the three judges who recused themselves, claiming that some evidence had not been captured.

Ms Hashi said her clients’ case would suffer since some testimonies had not been represented in the judges’ final ruling.

But Justice Njoroge said courts could not produce two sets of records for different parties and urged Ms Hashi to raise any complaints as the case continues.

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