NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 11 – Parliament has applied for the High Court to dismiss a petition filed by National Lands Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri seeking to bar them from considering a petition for his ouster.
Parliament says the courts have violated the principle of separation of powers between the various Arms of Government after temporarily restraining it from considering the petition.
“This petition is a violation of the principle of separation of powers as it seeks for the court to delve into matters of internal procedures of the legislature,” Parliament submitted in its filings.
Parliament says the jurisdiction of the courts only comes into play once a tribunal has made a determination on Swazuri’s suitability to continue to serve as Chairman of the National Lands Commission.
They also argue that Swazuri will suffer no prejudice by Parliament continuing its inquiry as the procedure for the removal of a constitutional office holder guarantees due process.
“It is at this point, if it is reached (the tribunal stage) that the petitioner shall have the right to cross examine all witnesses,” reads the response.
Ironically, Swazuri himself has in his petition accused Parliament of operating outside its jurisdiction by taking on the role of the police and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in investigating the bribery charges levelled against him by former journalist Mugo Njeru.
Njeru claims that Swazuri solicited a Sh1 million bribe from him as a facilitation fee for the processing of Sh82.8 million in compensation for land acquired for use by the Standard Gauge Railway.
The compensation, he claims, did not however make it into his coffers leading him to blow the whistle on Swazuri.
Last month, Swazuri through his lawyer Tom Ojienda wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi calling on him to restrain the Lands committee of the House from continuing to consider Njeru’s petition in compliance with the court’s orders.
“The Departmental Committee on Lands chaired by Honourable Alex Muiru has continued with its inquiry in flagrant disobedience of the court’s order. This is deliberate and is intended to create an unnecessary constitutional crisis between the two Arms of Government.”