Justice has been served in Nairobi's Njiru area, as the Environment and Land Court handed down a decisive ruling in a long-standing land dispute involving hundreds of squatters and the family of former Starehe MP Gerishon Kirima.
The court has given the squatters until December 31 to vacate the more than 1,000-acre parcel of land, marking a significant victory for the Kirima family, who have been battling with the illegal settlers since 2003.
The dispute revolved around three groups of squatters who had laid claim to the contested land, asserting their right to it through adverse possession.
They argued that they had lived on the land uninterrupted for over 12 years.
However, Justice Samson Okong'o, presiding over the case, declared that these squatters had entered the land without legal basis and commenced construction without the owner's consent.
"The plaintiff (Kirima family) has proved that the defendants did not obtain his consent before entering into his said parcels of land and commencing construction thereon," said Justice Okong'o, affirming the family's ownership. He further described the defendants as trespassers on the said parcels of land, effectively dismissing their claims.
One crucial aspect of the ruling was the recognition that a separate group of individuals had genuinely purchased portions of the land from the late Kirima before his passing.
These legitimate purchasers, including Geoffrey Mungai, Paul Ndung'u, Victoria Technical Enterprises, Isaac Mbugua, and others, are set to be issued with title deeds for the land.
However, the squatters were not as fortunate. Justice Okong'o pointed out that they failed to substantiate their claims, including their occupancy and the acreage they were entitled to.
Among the squatters, a group of 300 people led by John Otieno Obade, who previously worked in a nearby quarry, claimed 80 acres, while another group of 1,310 people, led by Stephen Maina under the Kamatuto Self-Help group, laid claim to 160 acres.
A third group, under the Nadidai Muoroto Self-Help Group, asserted rights over 501 acres.
Justice Okong'o underlined the insufficiency of evidence, stating, "There is no evidence as to when each of the 1,310 members of Kamatuto had occupied the suit property for a period of 12 years as of 2011 when they allegedly brought the present suit."
This conclusion essentially extinguished their claims to the land.
With this ruling, the squatters find themselves at a crossroads, with only a limited time to vacate the land they had laid claim to.
Meanwhile, the Kirima family can finally look forward to securing their land and putting an end to over a decade of legal strife.