Squatters seek quick resettlement after Angaine land ruling
The 1,435 squatters petitioned NLC, claiming they had been allocated the land by founding President Jomo Kenyatta in 1975, but that the late powerful minister “grabbed it”.In a Kenya Gazette notice published on March 1, NLC ruled the squatters were the rightful owners of the land.
Ms Lydia Kiambi, one of the squatters in the 2,400 acres of land owned by the Jackson Angaine family and which National Land Commission (NLC) ruled should revert to the squatters, addresses journalists at Ontulili, Timau, Meru county. PHOTO | GITONGA MARETE | NMG
Residents of Ontulili in Timau, Meru County, want the Government to move with speed and survey 2,400 acres of land claimed by the late Jackson Angaine’s family after the National Land Commission (NLC) ruled it is their property. The 1,435 squatters petitioned NLC, claiming they had been allocated the land by founding President Jomo Kenyatta in 1975, but that the late powerful minister “grabbed it”.On Wednesday, the residents recounted how they were branded squatters on the land in the 1980s and forcibly evicted from their homes which were later razed down.“The eviction was brutal because we were not allowed to salvage anything. Police raided our homes and beat us up, including women and children. Some of us were arrested and charged with trespass,” said Paul Kinoti, 58, the chairman of the squatters.Mary Mumbi, 67, and a mother of five, said they have lived in destitution since they were evicted, raising their families in shanties in Timau and Nanyuki.“I was a young woman at the time and I remember how we were kicked out at dawn. It was so traumatic that our parents suffered stroke. We lacked school fees so we had to drop out,” she said.In a Kenya Gazette notice published on March 1, NLC ruled the squatters were the rightful owners of the land.“The commission noted that the land in question was excised from the forest to benefit the squatters. The commission recommends that the chief land registrar reverts the land to the claimants,” NLC said.
“Alternatively, the family of the late Angaine should give the claimants alternative land of equal size and value. The chief land registrar registers the land in the name of the squatters and they should be settled with the assistance of the director of land adjudication and the director of surveys,” it added.The residents praised the NLC ruling, saying they now felt like “other Kenyans” who owned land in the country.“We are overjoyed with this ruling because it demonstrates that the Government is not out to protect the rich. The law has finally caught up with grabbers and we call upon the authorities to start the process of returning the land to us,” said Lydia Kiambi, 62, who said her late son was buried there.“We will also not accept to be allocated alternative land after suffering injustices in the hands of the family. Our houses were burnt down and property destroyed in an attempt to evict us and we will not accept anything else short of our land,” said Mr Kinoti.But the Angaine family has vowed to challenge the notice, saying they had not been involved in the hearings before the decision was arrived at.Mugambi Angaine, the family spokesperson, said they had not been involved in the hearings and termed the ruling a “surprise” as he accused some people of playing politics with the land.“We are shocked that there is such a notice directing the family to revert the land to the squatters. This piece of land was a subject of a court case which was ruled in our favour in 1992 and we intend to challenge the notice in court,” he said in a telephone interview.