Land row: Sirikwa Squatters accuse police of forcible eviction 

Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Eddyson Nyale

Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Eddyson Nyale (second left) addresses members of Sirikwa Group Squatters led by their chairman Benjamin Rono (right), who was accompanied by their lawyer William Arusei (second right), after they took over the disputed property on November 19, 2022.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

More than 1,000 squatters embroiled in an ownership row over 25,000 acres of land with the family of former politician Mark Too are accusing police officers of using excessive force to evict them.

The Sirikwa squatters say six of their members, who were arrested on Friday night when police evicted them from the disputed farm near Eldoret International Airport, are missing.

Through their lawyer William Arusei, they said police officers are being used by the late politician’s family to harass them to vacate the land.

“Police continue to harass my clients by evicting them from the land after the Court of Appeal ruled in their favour,” said Mr Arusei.

Missing members

He said six members are missing following the eviction.

Mr Arusei said efforts to know their whereabouts in nearby police stations have been futile.

“Police officers from the stations are not ready to listen to the squatters,” said Mr Arusei.

Sirikwa Squatters Group chairman Benjamin Rono said they will launch a formal complaint on police brutality at the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) offices.

According to Mr Rono, the members lost five motorbikes, tractors, and iron sheets among other assets worth millions during the eviction.

“The manner in which police handled my clients was inhumane. I will sue the National Police Service for infringing on my clients’ rights,” said lawyer Arusei.

Uasin Gishu County Police Commander Ayub Gitonga refuted the claims, noting that no formal complaint has been lodged in any police station.

He urged families of the missing individuals to make a formal report for action to be taken.

On Friday night, the squatters’ celebration was cut short after a contingent of anti-riot police officers descended on the farm, demolishing all structures erected by squatters.

More than 300 officers started demolishing the structures at 10 pm.

Stay order

They termed the occupation of the land by squatters as illegal since the Too’s family had already acquired a stay order from the Supreme Court.

“We are here to ensure security for all. Squatters should not take the law into their hands but they must wait for due process of law to be followed before storming into this property. I wonder why they are claiming to be rightful owners yet the family of the late MP has acquired a stay order from the Supreme Court,” said Uasin Gishu Police Commander Ayub Gitonga.

Earlier, an attempt by security chiefs led by County Commissioner Eddyson Nyale and Deputy County police Commander Zacchaeus Ng’eno to implore squatters to vacate the land peacefully was futile.

Angry squatters told them to keep off the land, saying the Court of Appeal had given them the nod to repossess the property.

Immediately after the appellate court’s ruling, squatters stormed the land, hailing the court for ruling in their favour after a 10-year legal battle.

Mr Gitonga regretted the manner in which the squatters took over possession of the vast land.

His bid to appeal to the squatters to be patient and stop any developments on the disputed property until all legal issues are addressed was unsuccessful.

Mr Gitonga said the Court of Appeal judgment was subject to appeal at the Supreme Court.

“As far as we understand the outcome of the ruling, the Court of Appeal did not give orders to the squatters to take over the disputed property but gave a judgment which was in their favour,” Mr Gitonga said.