Counties plan to team up in tea firms lawsuit

Thursday February 5 2015

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto  has said a National Assembly Bill that is awaiting the President’s assent to become law will not stop him from flying the national flag while on official duty. FILE  PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto has said a National Assembly Bill that is awaiting the President’s assent to become law will not stop him from flying the national flag while on official duty. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEOFFREY RONO
By GEOFFREY RONO
More by this Author

The counties of Bomet and Kericho could team up in a suit against the British government and claim billions in compensation for historical land injustices.

County Attorney-General Samuel Keter told the Daily Nation his office was waiting for approval from Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s Cabinet before deciding whether to hire its own lawyer or team up with Kericho.

“Once we get the approval, we will chart the next course of action,” said Mr Keter.

Last year, the county assembly passed a motion compelling the county government to file a case against London and the British royal family to compensate the Talai and Kipsigis communities whose ancestral land was taken away for the establishment of multinational tea plantations.

The assembly mandated Governor Ruto to hire reputable legal practitioners to start proceedings, both locally and abroad.
Kericho has hired Nairobi lawyer Kimutai Bosek to represent it.

Governor Paul Chepkwony introduced Mr Bosek to the public in December, saying his government would not rest until those who lost their land got justice.
“What the British did went against the provisions of private and communal ownership of land,” Prof Chepkwony said then.

FORCIBLE EVICTION

“This was done through forcible eviction, burning of homes and mass transfers of populations,” he added.

The two counties are demanding the return of the land, saying it was unlawfully acquired.

They also want an apology from the Queen of England for the wrongs and atrocities against the Chepchabas, Talai and the Kipsigis.

Debating a motion by Kimulot MCA Sammy Towett last year, members said as a result of the evictions, the Chepchabas and Kipsigis had suffered great financial and mental anguish.
They said the communities were dumped in a tsetse fly-infested region in Nyanza.

The members urged the government not to renew expired land leases.They claimed the National Land Commission was conniving with the tea firms to renew the leases.
A similar suit was filed a few years ago by Kenyans against the colonial government’s brutalisation of Mau Mau fighters. More than 5,000 Mau Mau veterans last year received Sh2.6 billion in compensation from Britain.