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Call to query Swazuri over Kilifi land

A parliamentary committee wants National Lands Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri investigated for clearing land that turned out to have been acquired illegally.

The National Assembly Lands Committee in its report, signed by chairman Alex Mwiru, on the ownership of 1,129 acres owned by Mombasa Cement factory in Kilifi County, said Prof Swazuri wrote to the committee indicating that the cement manufacturer owned the land without evidence to back it up.

The committee, which in its recommendations call on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, to investigate the conduct of the NLC chairman, also accuses him of “un-procedurally” replacing the vice-chairman of the commission, who had been investigating the matter, in the middle of the investigation, and replacing him with a Mr Cyrus Kiogora Mburugu.

The MPs say in the report that Mr Mburugu reported directly to Prof Swazuri, which was unusual since no one else at the commission appeared to be aware of his findings.

The report recommends to the EACC that Prof Swazuri and the official, a senior lands officer at the NLC, be investigated for alleged abuse of office and that they be prosecuted if found culpable.

The parcel is at the centre of a dispute between the cement manufacturer and a group of squatters, who also accuse a former councillor, of reportedly acquiring their “allotment letters” and using them to sell the land to the factory’s owners.

The parliamentary team also wants the managing director of Mombasa cement investigated for allegedly presenting to the committee “fake ownership documents” with questions over how they were acquired, since the land had been amalgamated.

“There are no valid documents and no genuine chronology of land transaction entries to show how the two plots were acquired by Mombasa Cement Factory considering that they were as a result of various amalgamations and subdivisions to arrive at a single plot which had grant number and no CR number,” the report notes.
The committee wants the Lands ministry to repossess the parcel for “resettlement of the squatters.”

Managing Director of the Kilifi based factory is also accused of ignoring several invitations by the committee to give evidence, only sending a team of lawyers, who could also not explain how the company acquired the land over which its premises are located.

The parliamentary team, in its report which was recently tabled in the National Assembly, wants the Ministry of Lands to repossess the land and reserve it for “resettlement of the squatters” terming it public land, illegally acquired by the Coast based firm.

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