The Senate has summoned Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko over the planned eviction of over 60,000 families in the Maasai Mau forest.
The Senate’s Justice and Human Rights Committee wants Mr Tobiko, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) management and its board to justify a 60-day ultimatum issued for residents to vacate the country’s largest water tower.
“In the meantime, we are summoning Keriako Tobiko to appear before Senate’s Justice and Human Rights Committee next Wednesday to justify his one-man show in Mau in total disregard of the rights of people residing there,” Samson Cherargei, who chairs the committee said in a statement issued at Parliament buildings.
The Government has deployed a multi-agency team comprising KFS officers, the Kenya Police and Administration Police in the Mau forest complex to flush out illegal settlers who have encroached on the Maasai Mau section of the water catchment area.
The Government has however relaxed an order for the closure of 15 schools in the disputed forest land until after the closure of the third term that coincides with the 60-day eviction ultimatum.
“I demand that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto come clean and state their position on this matter. We shall not keep on speculating on whether the promise to those voters in Mau trust land has changed,” Mr Cherargei said.
The Nandi senator said events in Mau were against human rights, especially the right to own property as enshrined in Article 40 of the Constitution.
“The evictions trample on all socio-economic rights, including education and health guaranteed by Article 43 of the Constitution, the right to inherent dignity as stipulated in Article 28 and all other rights,” the senator said.
He said the committee was not questioning conservancy efforts in all the five water towers but that the removal of citizens must be done within the law and at the very least, by observing basic human rights.
“We have asked when the land in question was gazetted as a forest. We have asked how Keriako Tobiko comes in on matters of trustlands which are purely under the mandate of the county,” he said.