On 27th August 2021, the Environmental and Land Court of Kisumu ruled that the Kenya Railways Corporation and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government were guilty of gross human rights violations in the forced evictions of 3,000 Kibos residents.
On 5th February 2021, at 10.30 pm, more than 3,000 people from the Nubian community were left homeless after they were violently evicted from their homes in Kibos, Kisumu County.
Kenya Railways Corporation claimed they had invaded their land.
Heavily armed police officers kept watch as the bulldozers flattened the houses.
“We arrived home at around 10 pm. Shortly afterward, we heard screams and we came out to find out what it was,” said Saumu Abdalla, a resident.
She saw roaring bulldozers being guarded by police. As she went back into the house to warn people, the lights went off. The electricity had been cut.
“I rushed inside to try and get the elderly and the children out. I knew they were about to demolish our houses,” said Abdalla.
Shortly after teargas canisters were hurled in the houses, making it impossible to stay inside the houses.
It was raining at that time, the ground muddy, nowhere to go.
Fatuma Hamisi, another resident said the small children had a hard time.
“There was a three-week-old baby who was hit by one of the tear gas canisters. He was severely injured,” said Hamisi.
Saidah Abdalla, also a resident, said the government was unfair to them.
“Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o should have come here and protected us. He should have talked to us and allowed us to remove our property if they wanted us out,” said Saidah.
The residents, distraught, desperate and disillusioned, had nowhere to go and no place to call home anymore.
“We are surprised we only got a short notice yesterday and it was a verbal notice from the DC that we should vacate,” said Abdulrahman Mohammed, one of the community leaders.
Following the verbal notice, the DC waited for Kenya Railways Corporation officers and the county commissioner to arrive before marking several houses with red paint.
Mohammed said property worth more than S15 million was destroyed.
“Look at this house here. We have spent over Sh2.5 million building this place,” said Mohammed pointing to a hound of rubble that was once a business premise.
Hadija Rajab, an elderly, said she could not salvage anything from the house.
“I only came out with these clothes that I’m wearing,” she said. “I don’t know where or how to start.”
“I ask our President, are we Kenyans or not? Does he know there are Kenyans in this part of the country who are being evicted from a place they called home for decades?” posed Rajab.
Ahmed Juma, an elderly person, who lost the use of his legs, said he would rather God took him away from this earth.
“I don’t have legs. I use people’s hands to move around. Now the people have had their houses demolished. Will they help me or help themselves? Who will help me?” said Juma.
The total number of those affected was 3,500, out of which 1,500 were children and another 1,000 were women.
“The other 1,000 are elderly people and youth,” Saumu said.
She said the most shocking thing is they even demolished the mosque used by the Nubian community, whose forefathers, they claimed, were buried on the land.
The Nubians are a minority and discriminated community in Kenya and have been struggling with land ownership for decades.
Siama Hamisi, an elderly woman, said they were the first to settle in Kibos, when the area was only a bush.
“I was born in Kisumu. We came here with my uncles, father and grandmother. It was only a forest here. There was nothing. Only the birds were singing
According to Saumu, the Nubian community was brought by the British government and deserves recognition.
She said the Kata Commission, the African Commission and several other commissioned from to address land issues recognized the community.
“Why are they doing this to us? Is it because we are a minority? The constitution gives us a right and we must defend that right,” Saumu said.
The community members slept in tents with no doors.
On February 11, led by Saumu, and with support from InformAction, and a few other community leaders, community members filed a case in court after which they marched to Governor Nyong’o’s office in protest.
They went to the Land Court to reclaim the land they had occupied for more than 80 years and seek compensation for their destroyed property and lost livelihoods.
After a relatively short court battle, Judge Anthony Ombwayo on August 27 said by demolishing their houses, hospitals and mosques, the KRC and Interior Ministry Cabinet Secretary denied the petitioners their socio-economic and cultural rights.
He said the state has a duty to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the petitioner’s enjoyment of their socio-economic rights.
He said there was a court order stopping the eviction thus it was illegal to evict the petitioners.
He averred that the KRC and the Interior Ministry cabinet secretary never followed due procedure in evicting the petitioners.
He said the eviction of the petitioners without providing them with an alternative place to stay is illegal.
Ombwayo ruled that the petitioners be compensated and given an alternative place to stay.
However, he advised that the petitioners separately file for compensation.
Story by IFA Western Team