60,000 SETTLERS

Tobiko summoned by Senate over Mau evictions

Tobiko, Natembeye to explain 'ignored' title deeds, 'inhumane' removal

In Summary

• Senator Cherargei wants Tobiko and Natembeya will be asked why evictions were carried out 'inumanely'. He said more than 60,000 displaced people have not been provided with alternative land, food or shelter.

• Tobiko has ruled out compensation for the evictees saying they were living in the forest illegally.

An official plants trees among maize in part of the Mau Forest where settlers have been evicted.
SAVING MAU: An official plants trees among maize in part of the Mau Forest where settlers have been evicted.
Image: BY MATHEWS NDANYI

The Senate has summoned Environment CS Keriako Tobiko and Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya on Tuesday to explain ongoing 'inhumane' Mau forest evictions.

They will appear before the Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei.

Cherargei said on Sunday the evictions had been carried out in an "inhumane" manner, leaving more than 60,000 displaced people without alternative land, shelter or food.

Tobiko has ruled out compensation for the evictees, saying they were living in the forest illegally.

The titles were issued by the government and are legal but we're concerned officers of the same government have disregarded the documents to evict people from their homes.
Senator Samson Cherargei

“As a committee, we want to know why government officials went ahead with the inhumane evictions that have caused untold suffering to many Kenyans,” Cherargei said in Nandi county.

Tobiko and Natembeya are also expected to explain the status of the title deeds that the settlers are holding.

“The titles were issued by the government and are legal but we are concerned that officers of the same government have disregarded the documents to evict people from their homes,"  Cherargei said.

The senator said the way the evictions were handled by security officers infringed on the fundamental rights of the settlers. He said since the families held land titles, the CS and Natembeya should have provided alternative land for them.

“Our committee has asked them to appear on Tuesday to explain why they ordered the illegal evictions yet the government had settled the same families on the land in question, Cherargei said.

Thousands of settlers have already left following the expiration of the government's deadline for them to vacate.

 

On the weekend, Tobiko led a team of government officials to plan trees in vacated areas.

“The government will fence off the forest and deploy more security officers to protect the Mau which is a key water tower in this region,” Tobiko said.

Cherargei accused the CS of rubbishing the titled deeds held by the forest settlers as mere paper.

They all knew it was forest as they moved in illegally and we cannot even start discussing compensation for such an illegality.
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko

He said the region's leaders are not environmental conservation, as their critics claim.

“We are totally for the recovery of the Maasai Mau water tower but we are against the inhumane manner in which our people are being treated,” the senator said. None of the families or area leaders had grabbed land in Mau, he said.

“They all knew it was forest as they moved in illegally and we cannot even start discussing compensation for such an illegality," Tobiko said.

(Edited by V. Graham)