, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 30 – The Ministry of Lands and the National Land Commission have 90 days to dialogue and resolve the outstanding conflict between them before the Supreme Court can give its advisory opinion on the matter.
Supreme Court judges led by Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal unanimously rendered a decision that an advisory opinion on the relationship between the National Land Commission and the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development specifically on their respective mandates will be given after the 90-day period elapses.
“The court allows a 90-day period during which parties will agree on constructive engagement towards reconciliation and a harmonious engagement,” the court ruled.
Lawyer Tom Ojienda representing the National Land Commission lauded the ruling saying the commission was ready to dialogue with its feuding counterpart in the hope of reaching a resolution.
“I think the court is promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms under Article 159(2) of the Constitution,” Ojienda reacted to the ruling.
Some 27 issues had been brought before the court.
Lady Justice Njoki Ndung’u who dissented on the Supreme Court’s role on the matter ruled that it should not be involved as it would undermine the High Court, which is a junior court and should determine the case first and also that it would be premature to rule on the case when it was clear that the feuding parties had not explored all available channels.
The National Land Commission had moved to court to seek an opinion on its mandate vis-a-vis that of the ministry as the two State organs have been in a constant tug of war over their mandates.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Lands placed an advert in the media dismissing an earlier notice by the National Land Commission where it had warned the public and financial institutions that leases and certificates of titles issued after March 1, 2013 and not bearing the signature and seal from the commission were null and void.
The notice had caused panic especially in banks and other lending institutions, one that made the commission clarify the matter, but Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu did not take the matter lightly.
Ngilu lashed out at the NLC for causing anxiety and panic across the country while at the same time reassuring Kenyans and financial institutions that all titles issued by the government were valid and legal.
“The ministry wishes to reconfirm that it is the National Government and the National Government alone that has the legal responsibility and capacity to guarantee title…the ministry reassures the public, financial, academic, legal institutions and private institutions that all titles issued by the government are valid and legal and can transact using these documents without fear,” part of the one-page notice read.
According to Ojienda, the advertisements were a clear indication of the frustration both organs were undergoing and hence the need to conclude them as soon as possible.