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Police disperse Ogiek meeting in Molo, say it is illegal

Sunday February 16 2020
MEETING

Members of the Ogiek community led by their Council of Elders National Chairperson Joseph Towett Kimaiyo (left) disperse in protest at Mariashoni trading centre in Molo Sub-County on February 14, 2020. The police declared their meeting illegal. PHOTO| FRANCIS MUREIRHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By FRANCIS MUREITHI

Attempts by the Ogiek community to launch a register of their members in Molo Sub-County were thwarted after they were dispersed by police.

More than 300 members of the Ogiek community led by their Council of Elders National Chairperson Joseph Towett Kimaiywo had gathered at Marioshoni trading centre on Friday to launch their register.

ARMED POLICEMEN

However, moments after Mr Kimaiywo took to the podium to address the gathering, acting Senior Chief Daniel Ngurule, who was accompanied by two armed police officers, stormed the meeting and ordered the gathering to disperse.

“This is an illegal meeting and, therefore, I order all of you to disperse,” said Mr Ngurule.

Mr Kimaiywo said the meeting's date was fixed last December and the main objective was to discuss historical injustices against the community.

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“Members of the Ogiek community have been arrested and charged with invading the Mau Forest yet they are the indigenous inhabitants of the forest,” said Mr Kimaiywo.

He said the meeting was also set to discuss resettlement of the Ogiek following the government’s decision to evict settlers from the water tower last year.

ARUSHA COURT

The official said that the members also wanted to deliberate on the implementation of the Arusha Court verdict which ordered the government to prepare a comprehensive register of Ogieks and resettle them without further delay.

However, six years after the historic Arusha Court ruling, the National Land Commission has not prepared a register of the community which has about 5,788 members.

The Ogiek have moved to the High Court in Nairobi to push the government to obey the Arusha court verdict.

AUTHENTIC DOCUMENT

“Today we wanted to launch the register and hand it over to the government so that it can have an authentic document to resettle all members of the Ogiek community,” said Mr Kimaiywo.

He added: “The Ogiek know each other and that is why we have prepared the register and it is sad the government is not addressing historical injustices against the community.”

He accused powerful individuals in the government of influencing dispersal of the Marioshoni meeting.

“We are very much aware of powerful individuals in the government who grabbed huge chunks of land in Mau Forest and have been frustrating our efforts to get justice but we shall continue pressing for our constitutional rights,” said Mr Kimaiywo.

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