AG sued over former Moi land evictions

Attorney-General Githu Muigai. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Attorney-General Githu Muigai. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Attorney-General Githu Muigai has been accused of contempt of court for allowing the eviction of Laikipia residents from 17,105 acres of land former President Daniel arap Moi sold for Sh400 million to be converted into a national park.

The Environment Court in Nyeri said the AG should be enjoined in the suit after residents filed a contempt of court application against former Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) director-general Kitili Mbathi and Laikipia county police commander Simon Kipkeu for the eviction.

The court had stopped the eviction on July 31 after the residents appealed a judgment that required them to leave the land.

The KWS in 2011 bought the land from Mr Moi to establish new parks. Community leaders and US-based Centre for International Human Rights Law and Advocacy opposed the sale.

The community accused Mr Moi of disposing of their ancestral land without considering their fate.

“Unless they are cited in contempt of the order dated July 31, they will continue defying or violating the court order at the expense of authority and dignity of this court and the rule of law,” lawyer Suyianka Lempaa told Justice Lucy Waithaka.

He added that the community had suffered irreparable damages as their rights to housing, dignity and property were violated and jeopardised.

The land, which is also known as Kabarak Farm, has been at the centre of controversy between the community, Mr Moi, the KWS and Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF) since 2008.

After an eight-year court battle, the High Court in June rejected the community’s claim, clearing the way for the land to be turned into Laikipia National Park, managed by the KWS.

This prompted an appeal from the community.

At its heart, the dispute is about whether the Samburu squatted on the land from the early 1980s, as they testified in court, or invaded it after the AWF bought it.

In its June judgment, the court dismissed the adverse possession claim as Moi only owned the land for 11 years prior to the 2009 evictions, after buying it in late 1997 from Ol Pejeta, a cattle ranch.

The case was fixed to proceed on February 20, 2018 when the Attorney General is expected to reply to the claims of forceful eviction.