Mau Forest settlers will have to wait for 45 days for the court to rule on temporary orders stopping evictions.
This is after the Environment and Lands Court in Narok concluded hearing of the petition filed by 13 Mau Forest settlers seeking orders to stop the evictions.
That means phase two of the evictions might be delayed as the government awaits the court ruling.
Issues surrounding legality of title deeds, illegal extension of group ranches, the legitimacy of cutline, and the manner in which the evictions were done took centre stage, with lawyers from both sides pulling in different directions.
Lawyers representing the evictees led by Humprey Manyange pushed for conservatory orders to stop a multi-agency team from evicting the settlers until the case is heard and determined.
Mr Manyange claims that the government is illegally evicting private owners of individual property comprising Reiyo, Enakishomi, Sisiyan, Enoosokon and Nkaroni group ranches who do not live in the forest.
“My clients are private land owners; they were issued with title deeds for this land between 1996 and 2003 and they are not living in the forest,” said Mr Manyange.
Mr Manyenge argued that his clients have suffered irreparable harm, accusing the government of conducting the evictions in an inhumane manner that has caused his clients unimaginable losses through destruction of property.
He listed Cabinet secretaries Farida Karoney (Land), Fred Matiang'i (Interior), Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya, Kenya Forest Service Chief Conservator Monicah Kalenda and the National Land Commission as the respondents.
At the close of the first phase of evictions last month, the government had secured about 12,000 hectares of the forest, ejected 7,082 people and demolished over 1,700 temporary structures in the 46,000-hectare forest.
But lawyers for the State poked holes into the settlers’ petition, arguing that the government is only evicting people from forest land that was illegally encroached upon.
Deputy Chief State Counsel Oscar Eredi said the government is opposed to the temporary orders.
He said the five group ranches were subdivided among the group ranch members but during the time of subdivision, the ranch officials enhanced the acreage from the original size.
“Land miraculously expanded into the forest, and there was not a vacuum; this act was illegal since the title of this group ranches had its original acreage,” said Mr Eredi.