The Nandi County government has begun the process of suing Britain seeking compensation for atrocities committed against the community during the colonial period.
It has appointed international lawyer Karim Khan and Lilan and Koech advocates to collect evidence for a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over displacement of the Nandi community from their ancestral land and the brutal killing of Koitalel Samoei over 120 years ago for resisting colonial rule.
“We have signed an agreement with the two law firms and they are expected to tour the region next week to start collecting evidence in readiness to file the suit," George Tarus, a political adviser to Governor Cleophas Lagat, said by phone on Tuesday.
The county assembly has already approved Sh108 million to hire legal experts to file the suit at the ICC and the African Court of Justice.
Mr Khan specialises in international criminal and human rights law.
He represented Deputy President William Ruto and Francis Muthaura in the crimes against humanity case at the ICC relating to the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
The cases against the two and four other Kenyans, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, were later dropped for lack of evidence.
“Our local and international lawyers have made some progress and the suit will be formally filed once they collect satisfactory evidence,” added Mr Tarus.
“What we want is justice and compensation from the British government over the killing of our leader and forceful displacement from ancestral land to pave the way for tea plantations,” demanded the Nandi leaders, led by the governor last year during the memorial event to mark the killing of Koitalel.
“We have satisfactory evidence, including names of British soldiers who killed our spiritual leader, and looting of property including animals and grabbing of land among other atrocities that subjected the community members to suffering and poverty,” explained Dr Lagat in an earlier interview.
The legendry leader was shot dead in October 1905 by Col Randle Meinertzhagen at Ketbarak, near Nandi Hills, after leading a seven-year rebellion against British colonialists.
This led to the displacement of the Nandi community from their ancestral land in Nandi Hills and Kaptumo to allow for the setting up of multinational tea companies.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter has been on the forefront in demanding that tea estates give bursaries to needy children as a way of giving back to the community.
Nandi Senator Stephen Sang, Mr Keter and county assembly Speaker Edwin Cheluget have been instrumental in the filing of the suit against the Britain government.
“The county government will collaborate with the national government in seeking compensation and justice for the Nandi community,” said Dr Lagat.
The colonialists took away, among other things, Samoei’s head and traditional regalia, which the Nandi community wants returned to them.
Some of the treasures were recovered in 2006 through the efforts and guidance of Egyptologist Kipkoech arap Sambu and with the cooperation of Col Richard Meinertzhagen, son of Randle Meinertzhagen.
They include Samoei’s royal batons, which were kept in a transparent glass in a four-roomed semi-museum in a renovated building.
The Senate Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs toured Kapsisiywa, where some 10,000 people from the Talai clan presented their petition demanding compensation for atrocities meted out against them by the British colonialists.
The committee, chaired by Busia Senator Amos Wako, said the Senate will deliberate on the petition and make its findings public.