Archive 1999


Some of the 5,000 Ogiek who came to the High Court in Nairobi for the hearing of a case in which the community is seeking a court injunction to stop the provincial administration in Rift Valley and the area forestry officer from evicting them from Tinet Forest in Nakuru District. 


Friday, June 25, 1999

Leave Ogiek community alone, govt ordered


The government was yesterday restrained from evicting 5,000 members of the Ogiek community from a forest in Nakuru.

Two High Court judges sitting in Nairobi ordered the Rift Valley provincial commissioner and the forest officer not to kick out the community from Tinet Forest.

The Ogieks attended court proceedings in their hundreds clad in their traditional regalia.

Mr Justice Sam Oguk and Mr Justice Richard Kuloba issued the injunction after counsel representing the community and that of the Attorney-General recommended it.

The judges said: "By this consent, the status quo will be maintained. The order is to remain until the application filed by the applicants is heard and determined."

The 10 applicants representing the community are led by Mr Francis Kemei. Their lawyer, Mr Joseph Sergon, has named the respondents in the suit as the AG, the Rift Valley PC, the provincial forest officer and the Nakuru district commissioner.

State counsel Judy Madahana and Anthony Omwayo said they had not had time to peruse some of the documents related to the suit.

"We are not ready to proceed with the suit. I have just received the file from Nakuru, where this suit originated. I have not had time to prepare adequately in view of the seriousness of the matter raised by the applicants," Mrs Madahana told the court.

She said that although the office of the AG had entered into a consent to have the injunction granted, she would apply for an adjournment to enable the office file replies to the affidavits already in court.

In response, Mr Sergon said that although his clients appreciated the circumstances facing the four defendants in their bid to reply to the affidavits, he was ready to proceed with the hearing.

The lawyer said his clients would testify as per the affidavits already filed.

The judges directed that all the affidavits sworn by the applicants be offered as part of the evidence and be filed within 14 days. The court also directed that the four respondents be given 10 days to reply to the affidavits.

They ordered that the suit be heard on July 28 and 29.

In the application, the community's lawyer avers that his clients were allocated land in Tinet Forest between 1991 and last year (1998) by the PC, the forest officer and the Nakuru DC.

"The 14 applicants and the Ogiek community they represent have constructed 10 primary schools and seven trading centres in Tinet Forest. On May 13, the DC and the PC gave a verbal notice of 14 days to the applicants and the community living in the forest to quit or be forcefully evicted," the lawyer says in the notice of motion.

He adds that the community will suffer irreparably if the respondents are not stopped from evicting its members and interfering with their property.

The lawyer produced in court an affidavit sworn by Mr Kemei, the first applicant, in which he says the forest is the community's ancestral land.

"The Ogiek community derives its livelihood from food gathering, hunting and peasant farming in the land, one of the county's gazetted forests," Mr Kemei avers.

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