Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko, was on Tuesday, July 21, forced to halt any further evictions of persons currently residing in Mau Forest.
Justice John Mutungi, while presiding over the hearing at the Environment and Lands Court in Nakuru, issued the orders barring the government from expelling residents from the highly contested area.
This follows a successful petition filed by Nessuit Ward Member of County Assembly (MCA) Samuel Tonui.
"The said officers have torched and destroyed property worth millions of shillings on a disguise that the operation is intended to stop all illegal human activities from government forests which form the Eastern side of Mau Forest Complex," reads the petition in part.
The MCA, who also serves as the Deputy Speaker at the Nakuru County Assembly, also sued CS Tobiko, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya, and the Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) as part of his petition.
His lawyers - Renny Langat and Kipkoech Ng'etich argued that CS Tobiko and the rest of the accused were out to wipe out the residents of Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Lilia, Terit and Sigotik settlement schemes.
According to the petition, the Environment PS was working in tandem with KFS officers in conjunction with officers from the National Police Service.
Tonui's team further revealed that over 45,000 people who have so far been evicted from the contested land had valid title deeds issued by the Government.
On July 20, Slow Food - a global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, issued a press statement castigating CS Tobiko over the Mau evictions.
The group joined over 20 organizations of the civil society who have all sent out statement letters to the Environment CS, asking him to stop the ongoing forced evictions of the Ogiek community in Kenya.
According to the movements, their aim is to draw the attention of the international public to a situation that is bringing indigenous people to their knees.
On the other side of the divide, Kenya is tasked with an international obligation to protect the Mau forest complex as it is a source of livelihood for millions of people far beyond the country’s borders.
In 2010, Kenya signed an accord (The Cooperative Framework Agreement, CFA) meant to manage the resources of River Nile. The Nile gets its water from Lake Victoria which, in turn, is fed by rivers from the Mau complex.
The CFA was signed by former Water Minister and current Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, following negotiations that lasted for more than a decade.
The Nile serves South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.