The Army is a feared unit, and this arises from their past stories where they’ve been alleged to have ravaged and plundered villages and territories they considered hostile, or even sympathetic to enemy forces.
However, residents of Burat in Isiolo displayed remarkable bravery when, led by Kuresha Bille, the residents from Kilimani, Elsa, Ngusoro, Bulesdima, Kabarnet, Akadeli, Kakili and Kambi Turkana areas stood up to the military.
“We will stand firm and defend our land. We will not be cowed by intimidation and threats by the military because we know our rights,” said Ms Bille.
Speaking during a community meeting in Kakili, the irate residents claimed that the soldiers were erecting beacons at night, and expressed fears that their land could be grabbed under the county government’s watch and in spite of an active matter in court.
They demanded that the military halts the exercise, warning that they will not allow the beaconing to continue as no one is above the law.
The row stems from the beaconing of a disputed piece of land by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) School of Infantry despite a pending matter in court.
The over 20,000 affected residents moved to court in Meru following an eviction letter issued in August 2019, and got orders barring the government from evicting them from the disputed land until the application made by six residents on their behalf was heard and determined.
The Environment and Labour Relations Court also barred the government from carrying out any survey work or adjudication of the land in Isiolo North until the matter is determined.
And in what now risks turning into repeated incidents of land disputes between the military and civilians within the area, in the neighbouring region of Meru, 13 residents last Thursday obtained orders stopping the KDF from evicting over 7,500 families or further development of a 17,000-acre piece of land in Tigania East.
The Land court issued interim orders barring the KDF 78 Battalion from evicting the families from the disputed land.