No Notice, No Humanity: Forced Eviction in Isiolo

Francis Kirimi was still sleeping on the morning of 22nd August 2021, when he heard movements outside.

It was around 3 am and a bulldozer, escorted by police, was offloaded from a truck outside his gate.

Kirimi says when he went out to check what was happening he saw a contingent of police officers.

“One lady officer told me there was someone hiding near the gate. They came for me and as they escorted me to their Landcruiser, I shouted for help, waking up the neighbours,” said the father of three.

The contingent of about 60 police officers, who had arrived in a lorry and two Landcruisers, were also accompanied by a bulldozer and had come to evict the locals.

No prior notice had been issued.

Kirimi, a plumber, says he was not part of the six neighbours who had a case at the Isiolo law courts regarding ownership of the land being disputed between the six neighbours and a developer.

In 2019, the same developer came with the police and demolished his house and later apologized saying he was not the target.

Gripped by fear on August 22, the residents started screaming while fleeing for safety as others hurled stones towards the police officers.

This forced the police to shoot in the air and lob tear gas canisters in order to disperse the violent crowd that demanded an explanation for the demolitions.

Tired of frequent demolition and evictions in Mwangaza, the angry locals barricaded roads and burnt the bulldozer and truck.

Police shot at them injuring three of them on the stomachs and legs.

Mwangaza village neighbours Meru County and the Isiolo International Airport. It has been a hot cake for private developers.

Many landowners have lost their lives and properties in the area with the County government doing little to help them despite numerous pleas to issue them with land documents.

Ann Wambui said she thought the police officers were thugs when she heard doors being broken.

She rushed out to check when she met with the bulldozer starting to bring down her house.

Her late mother, who was the owner of the land, is among the respondents in the court case.

Six victims are in court with a tycoon whom they claim they have never seen in court. His lawyer always represents him.

Wambui’s mother’s grave was destroyed during the demolition.

It pained her to see four of her neighbours’ houses brought down yet they were not part of their court case.

In 2019, when the court ordered the six respondents to vacate the piece of the land, they went to court and a stay order was issued, which they say is still in place because the plaintiff had not objected to it.

Several questions abound. Why did the police have to shoot at the demonstrators injuring three of them? Why did they have to evict the respondents without issuing an eviction notice? Did the eviction have to take place at 3 am when people were sleeping? Will the four affected neighbours who were not part of the case in court get justice?

InformAction Isiolo Team notified the Independent Police Oversight Authority of the shooting and investigations into the matter have started.

Evictions should only be carried out when appropriate procedural protections are in place, in accordance with the law.

Story by IFA Isiolo Team

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