Joyful squatters yesterday thronged the disputed Sirikwa property near the Moi International Airport, Eldoret, where they held prayers and started erecting structures following their win on Friday at the Court of Appeal.
They are now the rightful owners of the 25,000 acres after a three-judge bench said the family of former powerful politician Mark Too had no right over it.
Yesterday, their leaders gave Mr Too’s family 24 hours to vacate the land even as they defied orders by security officers to stop erecting structures.
However, the around 1,000 Sirikwa squatters should not carry their mursik gourds in celebration just yet.
Mr Too’s family has indicated that it is moving to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision. “Yes, the Court of Appeal has ruled in their favour, but we are not relenting. On Monday, we will challenge the ruling,” said Nathan Too, son of the late MP.
The squatters, through their chairman Benjamin Rono, told security officers to keep off the land and allow them to continue with demarcation.
“For a long time, police have always been used by the family of Mark Too to intimidate us, despite three subsequent court rulings in our favour. If you have an order requiring us to vacate this land, then show it to us,” said Mr Rono, as members continued with construction works.
Mr Rono told the security team that the Court of Appeal ruling upheld their right to own their property, which was being taken away. “God has been faithful to us. Finally, we have won the battle after fighting for more than 10 years,” said one of the jubilant squatters.
Their lawyer, Mr William Arusei, bragged about whitewashing a battery of lawyers that represented the Toos, led by Senior Counsel Tom Ojienda.
“As a lawyer, I stand here to celebrate with my clients our victory. I have silenced more than 10 lawyers who were hired to represent the family of Mark Too,” he said, telling the police to keep off the property.
A contingent of security officers, led by Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Eddyson Nyale, pleaded with the squatters to stop demarcating the land and wait until the expiry of a 14-day window within which the court decision can be challenged. “I know there was a court ruling yesterday in your favour. Kindly, be patient until the expiry of the appeal period. I will be more than willing to give you security as you share the property,” said Mr Nyale.
He urged the squatters to maintain peace within the 14 days and added that his office had yet to receive orders to enforce the eviction of Too’s family.
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Despite pleas from security officers, the squatters continued with their construction, daring the officers to eject them.
“This has been the trend for more than 10 years. Today, we are not going to allow police to interfere with our operations on this farm, unless they come with an order directing us to stop putting our land in order,” said Mr Rono.
The case also sought to find out whether the titles held by Fanikiwa and respondents arising from the suit properties were legitimate. Although the land lost by the Toos covers several public utilities, including Moi University, the airport and schools, they are not affected by the judgment.