, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29 – National Land Commission (NLC) Chairman Mohammed Swazuri has moved to court to restrain the National Assembly Lands Committee from hearing a petition seeking his removal over a Sh1 million bribery claim.
Under a certificate of urgency, Swazuri wants the High Court to issue orders stopping Wednesday’s decision by the Departmental Committee on Lands from convening and proceeding to hear the petition pending determination of his case.
Former journalist Mugo Njeru has petitioned the committee to investigate criminal allegations of corruption and bribery against the NLC chief.
Njeru and his wife Edith Wairimu have accused Swazuri of demanding a bribe of Sh1.2 million to be compensated for their land which the government acquired for the Standard Gauge Railway project.
The petitioner’s 80 acres is located off Mombasa Road in Nairobi and the committee was told that a surveyor from the Lands Ministry mapped out the disputed land and wrote a report confirming that he was the owner.
Swazuri insists that the parliamentary committee does not have power to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption as the mandate exclusively belongs to the police and EACC.
“By purporting to do so, the committee is acting in excess of jurisdiction by usurping the exclusive roles of the police and EACC,” he argues.
The Njeru’s wants Swazuri held liable for decisions made in his capacity as chairman of the NLC but the latter argues that would be discriminatory by “singling him out for decisions reached by the commission”.
Through lawyer Tom Ojienda, Swazuri is apprehensive that unless Parliament is barred, he sands to suffer outright violations of his constitutional rights to fair administrative action, right to a fair hearing, protection against discrimination and right to human dignity amongst others.
Swazuri has further faulted Njeru’s petition for calling upon the committee to make a determination on who is the rightful owner of the suit property.
According to the NLC boss, that jurisdiction exclusively belongs to the Environmental and Land Division Court.
Last December 19, Swazuri was allegedly paid Sh1 million in cash by Njeru through his conduit Badhili Elijah as a bribe.