Nyamira Environment and Lands court has ordered the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the National Land Commission (NLC) to appear in court physically to provide information on the Keroka Town boundaries between Kisii and Nyamira counties.
The case, ELCPET/E001/2023, was brought before Justice Mugo Kamau by Nyambega Gisesa against the State Law and the National Land Commission and three others.
During the Mention on May 11, 2023, Mr. Maeche, Ms. Bundi, and Mr. Mokaya advocates for the petitioner, Mr. Nyambane, and Mr. Nyagarama Advocates for the 1st interested party and Mr. Mosota advocates for the 2nd interested party were heard.
The court ordered the IEBC’s secretary (CEO) to appear physically on May 25, 2023, to explain whether the boundaries between Kisii and Nyamira counties had ever been fixed, specifically at Keroka town, and to bring documents to show where the boundary is.
Additionally, the court ordered the chairman of the NLC, county surveyors, and land registrars of both Kisii and Nyamira counties to appear physically in court on the same date with the area maps.
In a recent development related to the boundary dispute between Kisii and Nyamira counties, Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo claimed that 90% of Keroka Town falls under Nyamira county. Governor Nyaribo’s statement was supported by South Mugirango MP Hon Silvanus Osoro.
Hon. Nyambega Gisesa filed a petition with the Nyamira Environment and Lands Court seeking the National Land Commission (NLC) to investigate, survey and demarcate the boundaries of Keroka town.
The town is mostly located in Nyamira County but has experienced encroachment from the Kisii County government, which has been operating and administering a county boundary that does not belong to it.
Hon. Nyambega Gisesa is also seeking orders to declare that lands covering Kisii Agricultural Training Center (KATC), Kenya Agricultural Research Institute-Kisii (KARI Kisii), and parts of Getare and Jogoo areas neighboring Kisii town belong to Nyamira County, which should administer and levy rates and taxes from those portions of land.
The petition is filed pursuant to Articles 67 of the Constitution and section 15 of the National Land Commission Act, No. 5 of 2012. Section 15 of the Act provides for historical land injustices, and Article 67(3) of the Constitution states that the Commission shall receive, admit and investigate all historical land injustice complaints and recommend appropriate redress.
Hon. Nyambega Gisesa moved to court after 212 residents of Keroka market center petitioned him to intervene and help them find a solution to the boundary disputes.
The residents continue to be harassed by officials from both counties, resulting in destruction of property and injury to members of the public.
They are also forced to pay the same taxes twice to two different counties, and due to the confusion, they don’t know from which county they should demand services and accountability for the taxes they pay.
The petition has named the National Land Commission and the Attorney General as respondents, whereas Kisii and Nyamira counties and the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning are listed as interested parties.
Despite both the Nyamira and Kisii County Governors, His Excellency Governors Amos Nyaribo and H.E Simba Arati, and Senators, Hon Okong’o Omogeni and Richard Onyonka, failing to find a lasting solution to the border dispute, Hon. Nyambega Gisesa has sought refuge in court, which is the only institution vested with the authority to determine issues pertaining to Constitutional violation and infringement as far as land and land use is concerned.
The dispute has led to loss of taxpayers’ funds, as Kisii County officials have destroyed public property belonging to Nyamira County, and Nyamira County officials have demolished kiosks and other properties where Kisii county was levying taxes, leading to destruction of property and injuring a police officer.
Moreover, residents and traders of Keroka market center have lost a lot in development since the town is yet to be upgraded to a municipality status pursuant to the Urban Areas and Cities Act of 2012, despite meeting all the requirements.