A criminal case over a land dispute involving the family of the late colonial paramount chief Kibor arap Talai in Uasin Gishu County will proceed after the High Court in Eldoret refused to stop the hearing.
The land was allegedly sold to Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, and a separate case involving Sudi and the Talai family is before the Land and Environment Court in Eldoret.
Six family members of the late colonial paramount chief have been dealt a blow after the High Court in Eldoret refused to stop hearing a criminal case against them over a disputed portion of the 2,000 acres of land.
At the centre of the dispute is Eunice Talai – a daughter-in-law of the late Talai. Eunice is accused by six of her in-laws of selling the Talai family land to Sudi without the knowledge and consent of the administrator of the multi-billion-shilling estate, Nancy Talai, a daughter of the late chief.
The 2,000-acre land, valued at Sh3.5 billion, is located in Kesses near the main campus of Moi University.
Members of the Talai family had approached the High Court, where they filed a petition on April 4, 2023, seeking to disqualify the magistrate's court from hearing the criminal case, claiming that it stemmed from a civil case over the land dispute.
In the petition, the six accused their sister-in-law, Eunice Talai, of acting in bad faith by dragging them to court for malicious damage to her property, describing it as untrue.
On Tuesday, Justice Robert Wananda struck out the petition for lack of merit. He said the court was not convinced by the petitioners' reasons why the High Court should quash the criminal case they were facing in the magistrate's court.
“It is therefore my finding that the petitioners have not provided sufficient evidence at this stage to demonstrate that there was any malice or impropriety in the decision to charge them at the lower court,” ruled Justice Wananda.
The court found that the reasons put forward by the petitioners were not convincing to warrant the issuance of orders stopping the proceedings in the magistrate's court.
The ruling has given the green light for the criminal case to proceed to trial.
In the criminal case, Nancy Talai, Margaret Talai, Lydia Talai, Simon Talai, Philemon Kiptoo and Collins Talai are charged with destroying property on 2,000 acres of disputed land on March 22, 2023.
According to the charge sheet, the disputed land is located near the Moi University campus in Uasin Gishu County.
The charge sheet states that the accused, together with others not before the court, unlawfully damaged fence poles and barbed wire, all valued at Sh674,375, belonging to Eunice Talai.
Eunice is alleged to have illegally sold the disputed land to the Kapseret MP without the knowledge and consent of Nancy Talai, the estate’s administrator.
The land dispute case is still ongoing at the Land and Environment Court in Eldoret.