Suspect given seven days ultimatum to surrender to police

A self-proclaimed Mau Forest settlers spokes-person, Joseph Kebenei alias Toltol, who is suspected to have been organising people to invade Mau Forest has seven days to surrender to police.

Narok County security team has issued the seven day ultimatum Thursday saying Kebenei had previously been summoned but he had ignored.

County Commissioner Mr. Moffat Kangi issued the order while speaking during a public baraza at Kass Fm area in the Mau- Narok Forest.

“If he does not surrender within one week, we will start hunting for him and I want to assure you we will get him,” he said.

Mr. Kebenei is believed to have been organising people in the area and soliciting money from them with a promise to give them land in the forest.

The unsuspecting members of the public are said to have been paying as little as Sh.3, 000 to Kebenei and team in order to acquire forest land.

Two weeks ago, Kebenei said he was ready to hand himself to the criminal investigation officers to be grilled over various issues including organising people to invade the Mau forest.

He has been on the security watch since December 2015 on suspicion of being the master mind of the Christmas Eve clashes that pitted the Maasai and Kalenjin communities living in the Olposimoru area along the Narok- Nakuru border.

The flare-up was triggered by the killing of two herders and theft of nine heads of cattle within Olposimoru Forest on December 23,2015. He is believed to have the backing of some powerful people in government in his alleged illegal activities.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Major-General (retired) Joseph Nkaissery had ordered his arrest when he toured the troubled area at the height of the flare-ups that lasted several days over allegations that Kebenei commands a militia in the forest and possessed a cache of firearms.

But recently Kebenei said he had never involved himself in criminal activities or handled dangerous weapon in his life.

On the Mau saga, he claimed to have been contracted by some political leaders to be a broker of the sale of the land in question and urged the government to resolve the issue once and for all by either compensating them with cash or an alternative land.

“Let the government solve the issue of Mau once and for all instead of threatening to kill me. We have supported the governments since 2005 but we have nothing to show for it,” he is quoted as having said.

On another front, the County Commissioner who is barely two weeks old in Narok also warned residents against grazing in the forest or cultivating new shambas in the area.

The administrator reminded them that the government had stopped further encroachment of the forest to save the massive water tower.

“The government has also stopped any land transactions or construction of new houses in this forest and anyone found breaking these rules will be arrested and prosecuted,” Kangi said.

County Ecosystem Conservator Mr. James Mburu said there are plans to plant tea on the forest border to prevent further encroachment.

Mburu said Nyayo Tea Zone management had begun planting tea on the Olposimoru side; a situation he said will protect the forest and create job opportunities to the locals.

Source: News Agency