Kenya: Nema Asks Court to Dismiss Land Suit Filed By Pastrol Community

The National Environment Management Authority has requested the Environment and Lands Court in Nyeri to dismiss a suit involving more than 10,000 members of the Marura peasant community facing eviction in Laikipia.

In an application, Nema asked Justice Yuvinalis Angima to throw out the suit citing that it has been determined previously in an appeal ruling involving Kisiriri pastoral community and Mr Harry Jennings, a white settler.

In the ruling delivered in February, Justice Mary Oundo banished Kisiriri herders from entering or interfering with Mr Jenning's farm.

The environment authority now says that the suit filed by Marura members is identical to that of the Kisiriri community.

"In the present suit, it's only the plaintiff's name that has changed but the subject matter remains the same, the two cases can rightly be said to be litigating under the same title," Nema said.

But while replying to the application, Marura community through its chairperson Peter Kirera and deputy chairperson Ibrahim Lesian said that they are different from the pastoral community.

Through lawyer Solomon Mukhama, the plaintiffs told Justice Angima that unlike the herders, they don't live in the areas neighbouring the disputed Jenning's farm.

Eviction threats

According to Mr Mukhama, Marura consists of sub-communities who are peasant farmers living in the areas of Mutara, Rumuruti, Salama Island and Thome.

"The land that was being claimed by the Kisiriri community is adjacent to LR5197 and LR2426 known as the Jenning's farm but in the present suit the property consists of different areas in Laikipia West constituency," said the lawyer.

The peasant farmers have also argued that they filed a suit after receiving constant threats of eviction from the properties by the Laikipia county government.

Marura moved to court seeking temporary orders against the county government and Nema, stopping them from interfering with their activities until the case was determined.

They filed a suit against the devolved government, the environment authority and the National Land Commission (NLC) as the first, second and third defendants respectively.

Mr Lesian said that the county government burnt down properties belonging to 3,000 members while trying to evict them in 2017.

He said that even though former President Daniel Moi had formally allocated and demarcated the subject land for them, the devolved unit said that it did not recognize the reserve as their property.

The community also accused the government bodies of holding meetings about the properties without their involvement.

Mr Lesian told Justice Angima that the defendants held three consecutive meetings in September last year in which they decided to evict them.

He said that they were only presented with the minutes of the meetings afterward.

The case will continue on June 30 for ruling.

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