Isiolo Parliamentarians accuse Lands CS of ignoring the concerns of Isiolo people
Members of Parliament from Isiolo County have today issued a statement accusing Farida Karoney led ministry of lands of ignoring the concerns of Isiolo people in issuing an amendment to Legal Notice No. 150. The legislators have appealed to the Ministry of Land to listen to the views of the people of Isiolo and stop any plans to adjudicate before registration of their Communal Land. Despite their appeals to the CS to have the legal notice completely revoked, the Lands Ministry opted to take sides with the County government and amended the initial adjudication order without consulting the public.
In the joint statement, the legislators raised several issues including;
Lack of consultation and public participation
The Ministry of Lands alludes to have received a draft from the County Assembly of Isiolo with list of areas to be adjudicated. “The report claims that the Assembly consulted Members of Parliament from Isiolo County on 16 November 2019. No such meeting with MPs took place. Additionally, putting aside the already-mentioned flaws of the report, the Assembly did not present the draft of the report which included areas to be adjudicated to the people who stand to be directly affected. Ideally, the draft report should have been extensively discussed with the people in all wards in Isiolo County,” reads part of the statement. According to the MPs, the County Government is the custodian of unadjudicated land in Isiolo and as such has the legal responsibility to undertake an effective public consultation before presenting their final draft to the Land’s Ministry.
Areas earmarked in the Legal Notice extend to (almost) all land in Isiolo County. “The Schedule attached to Legal Notice 1 lists seventy-seven (77) areas in all wards in Isiolo County, including settled areas, towns, and market/trading centers, as areas to which the Adjudication Order applies. In other words, most of the land in Isiolo County is subject to this adjudication order and will, therefore, be adjudicated from community land and subject to individual titles,” reads the statement. The legislators have raised concerns as to how the County arrived at the areas to be adjudicated when it had initially insisted that they were only focused on issuing tittles to towns and trading centers. The Legal Notice also talks of ‘settled areas’ without being specific on the exact coverage of the said area, this in itself is an ambiguity that appears to convert community land into private land.
The legal status of Isiolo Holding Grounds
The legal notice excludes Isiolo holding grounds purporting that the land is now public despite the fact that it has been lying idle for years. Part of the statement reads, “Some of the areas included in Legal Notice 1 as subject to adjudication, but which nonetheless fall within the Holding Grouds are Noloroi, Kipsing, Longopito, Lenguruma and Tuale (all in Oldonyiro Ward) and Kambi Sheikh, Akadeli/Bules Dima and Leparua (all in Burat Ward). In order to avoid encroaching on Isiolo Holding Grounds, which is and remains to be community land, the County Government of Isiolo is strongly encouraged to clearly identify and register the community’s claim over the grounds so as prevent any further confusion.”
The legal status of land claimed by Kenya Defence Forces
Legal Notice 1 purports to exclude Military and Security Installations in Isiolo from the adjudication order thereby implying that the land on which these are located is public land. As the people of Isiolo have consistently asserted, some of the land on which military and security installations are located and some of the land claimed by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) is community land, particularly in Burat, Ngaremara, and Gambella. The question of the determination of the status of this land is pending before the National Land Commission (NLC) and the High Court of Kenya. The High Court has in fact issued conservatory orders pending the determination of the dispute. Through Legal Notice 1, the Cabinet Secretary is essentially adopting a legal position on the question of the status and ownership of all land in Isiolo County claimed by the KDF and other security forces and attempting to sanitize the KDF’s claim over land which the people of Isiolo County believe to be community land. Further, the Cabinet Secretary’s actions are prejudicial as they not only pre-empt but also frustrate the ongoing judicial process over the land in question.
Further, despite purporting to exclude land claimed by the KDF from the adjudication order, Legal Notice 1 nonetheless lists some of these subject areas in its schedule, thereby opening them up to adjudication despite the existing legal dispute over their status. These areas are Kambi Sheikh, Akadeli/Bules Dima and Leparua (all in Burat Ward).
The legislators have made it clear that they will not relent until the legal notice is cancelled and communal land registered and protected as required by the law. The leaders have made a promise that they will use all means at their disposal to ensure this matter is sufficiently addressed to the full satisfaction of Isiolo people.