, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – In November 2014 they shook hands and smiled at the camera in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta as they agreed to bury the hatchet and move forward in one accord.
Fast forward to two months later and the Ministry of Lands and the National Lands Commission were back on opposing sides.
Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu on Tuesday told the Supreme Court, through her ministry’s lawyer Paul Muite, that she would not sign a report meant to effectively end the power struggle between the two lands bodies.
She said she was not involved in the composition of the technical committee that came up with recommendations on the sharing of power between her Ministry and the NLC and would therefore not append her signature to the report.
“This is their report,” Muite said.
“How can you just pick officials from the Ministry of Lands and claim it was a consultative process with the Cabinet Secretary of Lands?” he posed to NLC advocate Tom Ojienda.
Ojienda was however insistent that the Cabinet Secretary was involved in the formation of the technical committee and was, “now playing politics with a serious issue before the Supreme Court.”
“How can she claim not to have been involved in the formation of the committee when people who report directly to her have appended their signatures to it? Are we to honestly believe she has no idea what is happening in her Ministry?” Ojienda in turn posed to Muite.
He therefore made an application for the Supreme Court to decide on the contentious issues between the two parties.
“We are asking for an urgent date so that the matters can be heard and determined once and for all. We cannot have the NLC and the Ministry continue to wrangle over mandate,” he submitted before Deputy Registrar Lucy Njora who said the court would give directions on February 11.
The Supreme Court on October 30, 2014 gave the parties 90 days to dialogue and report back after the NLC sought its opinion on which powers lie with the Ministry of Lands and which lie with them.
Ngilu had earlier told Parliament that the NLC was not delivering on its mandate and she had therefore been forced to step in.
NLC on its part said Ngilu had no business issuing title deeds as it is a power that now rests with them following the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010.
The contentious report is signed by the Director, Physical Planning Ministry of Lands Augustine Masinde who also chaired the committee and the Senior Deputy Director Surveys Washington Abuto in addition to National Land Commissioners.