National Lands Commission Chairman Dr. Mohamed Swazuri react when he appeared before the Naitional Assembly Lands Committee at Parliament on Tuesday 28/03/17 over a petition to remove him from office over corruption.PHOTO:BONIFACE OKENDO
NAIROBI: The High Court has slammed the brakes on the process of removing National Lands Commission (NLC) Chairman Mohammad Swazuri from office.
This came even as MPs investigating Prof Swazuri declared him a hostile witness for seeking to stop answering their questions.
High Court judge John Mativo yesterday said: “Upon hearing the petition I’m satisfied that the allegations before me are clear legal issues that warrant to be investigated by the court.”
Swazuri moved to court yesterday through lawyer Tom Ojienda arguing that Parliament had no powers to investigate him.
Earlier, Swazuri got in trouble with members of the National Assembly’s Lands Committee when he sought to stop answering questions citing a court order.
The petitioner, Mugo Njeru, had accused him of abuse of office, breach of the Constitution and subsidiary laws and misuse of public funds. He has denied the claims.
Swazuri termed claims that he had pocketed a Sh1 million bribe as malicious and baseless, arguing that as the commission’s chairman he could not have acted alone.
Committee chairman Alex Mwiru (Tharaka) reminded Swazuri of previous letters authored by him to Kenya Railways Corporation Managing Director Atanas Maina, acting legal director Brian Ikol and valuation and taxation director Salome Munubi to authorise payments to different claimants.
A bitter exchange ensued between Swazuri and MPs when he was asked to explain why he went against the recommendation of the technical committee chaired by his vice chairperson Abigael Mukolwe and the director of survey.
Swazuri was hard pressed to explain why he signed a new agreement ordering the payment of Sh82 million to Barkresha Grain Millers Ltd instead of the rightful owners, Daimler Enterprise Ltd.
Similarly, Swazuri was accused of plotting to pay another Sh43 million through an account held by Keibukwo Investment, which the petition claimed was a conduit account to swindle public funds, in collusion with David Some, former owner of the half an acre as listed in the commission’s payment schedule.
“Whether by omission or submission, have you ever authorised payment for compensation of entity or individual? Has such thing occurred before?” Mwiru asked.
“Due process has been followed in the compensation process… You can know signs of malice,” Swazuri answered.
He denied knowledge of any compensation, contradicting his deputy who had indicated Swazuri ordered payment of Sh82 million and Sh43 million for the two plots Njeru was claiming.
“Our determination was to put the matter on hold to await new evidence… However the decision was reversed. Barkresh was paid Sh82 million without determination. Prof Swazuri wrote the letter,” said the vice chairman.