Rift MPs take Mau eviction to Uhuru's doorstep

The leaders want an audience with the President

In Summary

• The evictions target 60,000 Maasai Mau settlers.

• Over 200 security officers descended on Siera Loen in Maasai Mau on Saturday night to flush out illegal settlers.

Senator Kericho county Aaron Cheruiyot and MP Belgut constituency Nelson Koech during a press briefing condemning CS Ministry of Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko over the Mau forest eviction at the Nairobi Serena Hotel on 1st September 2019.
Mau Evictions Senator Kericho county Aaron Cheruiyot and MP Belgut constituency Nelson Koech during a press briefing condemning CS Ministry of Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko over the Mau forest eviction at the Nairobi Serena Hotel on 1st September 2019.

The impending Mau evictions snowballed into blame game yesterday with furious Rift Valley leaders saying the expulsions are not guided by sound policy.

The leaders want an audience with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot and Belgut MP Nelson Koech on Sunday said they will be seeking official government position on the evictions.


"I want to know from the President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto whether they have changed their public position to the issue," Cheruiyot said.

He said he stood side by side with the two as they sought votes in June 2017. "They promised people living in this area that they shall build their schools, hospitals, and roads if they voted for Jubilee. "

Cheruiyot claimed Uhuru donated Sh10 million during campaigns. He said innocent citizens heeded their calls and voted Jubilee. 

"It is now on you Mr President and your deputy to keep your side of the bargain," the senator said.

Over 10,000 school-going children will be affected if the evictions are carried out.

Their 31 schools are in Ololulunga, Melelo, Sogoo and Segemian wards in Narok county.

In August, former Bomet Governor and Chama Cha Mashinani party leader Isaac Rutto, former Kuresoi South Zakayo Cheruiyot, former Buret MP Franklin Bett, and former Konoin MP Paul Sang met with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the Mau evictions.


Heavily armed Kenya Forest Service rangers and troops from other security agencies on Saturday night descended on Siera Loen in Maasai Mau to flush out illegal settlers.

A source said over 200 security officers took part in the evictions. "The agencies moved into Nyamira Ndogo, Nkoben, Sierra Leone and Nkereta," the source who requested anonymity said.

KFS commandant Alex Lemarkoko and Narok Ecosystem conservator Muraguri Mwai presided over the operation.

A watchdog parliamentary committee says that Environment CS Keriako Tobiko will be invited to shed more light on the evictions.

Environment Committee chair Kareke Mbiuki urged Tobiko to update Kenyans on the success of phase I before engaging on phase II of the evictions.

The update, Mbiuki said, should include the number hectares restored.

He urged the ministry to ensure public participation, sensitisation, and engagement with leaders of the affected counties.

"The ministry must have a post-eviction plan to ensure that the affected persons have a way of getting resettled and that they can move with their lives with minimal disturbance, including the school-going children and especially the KCSE/KCPE candidates." 

Rift Valley leaders have accused Tobiko of "presiding over a one-man show."

Cheruiyot said both the Ntutu commission and Hassan Noor Commission had cabinet decisions and memos giving directions and challenged Tobiko to table them.

The senator said the government in 2009 used taxpayers money to document those with title deeds, letters of allotment, sale agreement and size of land.

"If he was keen and driving conservation exercise, he would have picked from where the Hassan Noor commission left," he said.

According to him, Noor talked of compensation, transfer of land to land and maintenance of the status quo as well as demarcation between the forest and residents of Maasai Mau.

Koech said Tobiko did not even prosecute a fly when he was the DPP and "now he wants to flex muscle on innocent children and expectant mothers. We are not going anywhere." 

The Kericho senator said a decision of such magnitude must be guided by a sound policy with input from the highest decision making organ –  the Executive.

They said that they have unsuccessfully sought an audience with Tobiko.

Last week, Kipkelion West MP Hillary Kosgei said seven MPS were ready to meet with the CS after booking the appointment through the secretary. 

"We wanted to see him as we had agreed. However, we were told that he had gone to Kilaguni," Kosgei said.

Yesterday, Tobiko, who has recently told politicians to keep off matters conservation, neither picked our calls nor responded to short text messages.

On Friday, Deputy President William Ruto, who was in Emurrua Dikiir, steered clear of the planned evictions.

Ruto was accompanied by Governors Samuel Tunai (Narok) and Hillary Barchok (Bomet) and MPs Johanna Ngeno (Emurrua Dikiir),  Patrick Munene (Chuka Igamba Ng'ombe) and Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East).

Ngeno warned the government against subjecting its people to suffering.

On Friday, Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said the eviction "has nothing to do with politics but everything to do with conservation."

"If they (Kalenjin politicians) go to the sky and come back, they will not get leadership positions in Narok," he told the Star by phone.

Kina said the claims that the evictions were political is "nonsense."

"These are the kicks of a dying horse," he said.

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony has also threatened to move to the International Criminal Court at The Hague should the government proceed with the planned eviction.

Some 35 Rift Valley leaders are moving to court to prevent the evictions.

Tobiko, during the announcement of the second phase of evictions, said the expulsions are not negotiable and those holding title deeds will not be compensated.

His stance that those with titles were merely "holding papers did not go well with the leaders.

Yesterday, Cheruiyot said the sanctity of title deeds and allotment letters must be respected.

You cannot just walk out of a bar and declare them illegal, he said.

Cheruiyot said all that Tobiko needed is to call Lands CS Faridah Karoney to establish the validity of those titles.

"If they are fake, why is the government in court asking for leave of court to cancel them?" he asked.

Cheruiyot said millions of title deeds have been issued by the Jubilee administration in the last few years to individuals who had been holding allotment letters for more than 30 years.

The Rift Valley leaders said the evictions were tantamount to "ethnic profiling and not conservation." 

Last week, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya emphasized that the eviction will be done in a humane manner.

Natembeya said that leaders in Narok County have been involved in the second phase.

"Basically 100 per cent of Maasai Mau is in Narok County and the government has already engaged with them. After the second phase, we will evict and rehabilitate other 21 blocks in the larger Mau Complex and we will engage other elected leaders in those regions,” he said by phone.

Natembeya said and Rift Valley leaders including Rutto had discussed the evictions.

 “If any politician feels like discussing the issue, they are free to visit me. Let them bring proposals on the table and we discuss," he said.

 On Wednesday, the government declared 15 schools in Maasai Mau as illegally constructed and that they will be shut. 

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