By Waweru Wairimu
Five MPs from Isiolo County have sued Lands Cabinet Secretary Faridah Karoney and the Attorney-General for declaring the county an adjudication area.
Nominated Senators Fatuma Dullo and Abshiro Halake, Rehema Jaldesa (Woman Representative) and MPs Hassan Odha (Isiolo North) and Abdi Koropu (Isiolo South) are seeking conservatory orders to stop implementation of the August legal notice.
Through lawyer Martin Gitonga, the lawmakers said they want the respondents, their servants or anyone working under their authority barred from commencing, undertaking or continuing with adjudication, survey and demarcation of community land.
The MPs argue that lack of adequate public participation in the process that led to issuance of the notice was deliberate and intended to suppress any opposition to allocation of parcels of land to third parties, in anticipation of huge returns from mega projects such as Lapsset and Resort City.
They also say residents’ concerns resulted in extreme hostility, with nefarious public servants and politicians taking advantage of the opaqueness of the process to antagonise communities and incite them against each other.
While terming the process illegal, the MPs argue that it is a direct affront on residents’ legitimate expectation that their views in regard to community land should be considered before any administrative action is taken.
The MPs further claim Ms Karoney is determined to proceed with implementing and applying the order to disenfranchise residents who are genuine stakeholders.
“Public interest in this matter tilts in the court halting the entire adjudication process rather than allowing an unlawful and illegitimate process to continue,” the petition reads in part.
The lawmakers also say the minister had refused to issue a public notice of the intention to survey, demarcate and register community land as provided for in section 8 (4) of Community Land Act, 2016.
Senator Dullo, in a written affidavit, says no community land management committee was set up by the devolved government for administration and management of land, pursuant to section 15 of the Community Land Act.
“Any decision made without involvement of the land committee is illegal and unlawful as it denies the community the opportunity to effectively participate in the process of land registration,” she says.
The matter failed to kick off at the Environment and Labour Court in Meru County on Friday as the trial judge was on leave.
Deputy Registrar Edward Tsimonjero directed the respondents to file and serve their responses to the petitioners who will then file their supplementary affidavit in 14 days.
“In the circumstances, I will place the matter before the judge when she resumes. The petitioners have liberty to move the court under vacation orders if need be to secure the interim orders sought,” Mr Tsimonjero said.
The case will be mentioned on February 5, 2020.