A Meru court has issued orders barring the government from evicting residents of Elsa Ntirim in isiolo County from a disputed land claimed by the Kenya Defence Forces School of Infantry.
The Environment and Labour Relations Court issued the orders stopping the eviction, whose notice expires on October 12, until the application by six affected residents is heard and determined.
“Orders are hereby issued restraining the respondents by themselves, their agents or servants from evicting the applicants and about 20,000 residents of Burat ward,” the orders issued by Justice Lucy Mbugua read part in part.
The respondents have also been barred from carrying out survey work or adjudication of the land until the case is decided.
The respondents in the matter are the Cabinet Secretaries for Land and Defence, the Attorney General, Isiolo County government, Isiolo County Commissioner and the Ministry of Interior and Government Coordination.
Mr Joseph Lorunyei, John Oyan, Joyce Nairesia, Ali Hassan Mohammed, Kuresha Bille and Mary Kepen made the application on October 7.
Isiolo Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Senator Dullo empasised that, “The court order which has been served to the Kenya Defense Force also stops them from carrying out any survey work or adjudication on the said land. My office is dedicated to ensuring that Burat residents get justice in the land dispute which has threatened to affect lives of over 40,000 residents”
“I wish to thank the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) for their support as well as the petitioners for standing firm and exercising patience” said, Senator Dullo.
The eviction letter from the Department of Defence notes that continued occupation of the about 10, 000-acre-land by the residents has severely affected training activities for the soldiers while also posing danger to the public due to the ammunition and explosives used in the exercises.
The letter had instructed Isiolo County Commissioner to implement forceful evictions on or after expiry of the period.
Residents claim that they had donated 100 acres to the soldiers in the 1980s but the military had now expanded the borders on three occasions displacing several people from their ancestral land.
A week ago, Isiolo County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri maintained that the land belonged to the military wing and was acquired in the 1970s through a compulsory acquisition and the affected residents were compensated by the government.
The case will be heard on October 29.