, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – National Land Commission Chairperson Muhammad Swazuri was Monday granted a Sh6 million surety bond with the option of a Sh3.5mn cash bail.
Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi stipulated the terms at the end of a court session that saw him arraigned in court alongside others over the payment of Sh221.3 million for the irregular acquisition of five parcels of land for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.
Kenya Railways MD Atanas Maina and other accused persons were granted Sh3 million surety bonds in addition to a requirement that they deposit their passports in court and keep off public offices.
The court did not find compelling grounds why the accused persons should not be granted bail.
The magistrate cited rights of accused persons under Article 49 (h) of the Constitution, which provides for the release of accused persons on reasonable terms in the absence of compelling reasons not to do so.
Swazuri faced seven charges of abuse of office with an alternative charge of breach of trust.
According to the prosecution, Swazuri used his position to improperly conferred benefits to three companies whose purported titles for five pieces of land marked as railway reserve are said to have been revoked.
Dasahe Investment Limited, Keibukwo Investment Limited and Olomotit Investment Limited were awarded various sums of money between October 2016 and February 2017.
Maina was accused of failing to protect public property hence leading to the loss of Sh221.3 million.
He also faced an alternative count of neglect of duty.
NLC’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Aziz faced an abuse of office charge for concurring to the Sh221.3 million payments despite the NLC Review of Grants and Dispositions of Land Committee having revoked the acquisition, by private entities, of the five parcels of land involved.
The ex-Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission Chief Executive Officer was also charged with breach of trust in relation to the irregular payment of compensation for the five parcels of land.
Others charged are Francis Karimi, Salome Munuri, Victor Wahome, Elijah Mwenda, John Mwangi, Caroline Kituyi, Peter Mburu, Gladys Mwikali, Obadiah Mbugua, David Some, and Esther Some.
NLC officials Mbugua, Mwangi, Kituyi, Mburu, and Mwikali were charged with unlawful disposal of public property actions which violated Sections 45 and 48 of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.
KRC surveyors, Wahome and Mwenda, were charged with neglect of official duty having failed to carry out due diligence in the protection of five parcels of land being railway reserves and as a result causing the loss of Sh221.3 million in compensation payouts to three private entities which had laid claim on the pieces of land.
Land Registrars, Kituyi, Mburu, and Mwikali, were charged with neglect of duty by failing to conduct due diligence in the registration of land titles hence causing losses amount to Sh43.8, Sh89.9, and Sh47.6 million respectively with regards to L.R. 9087, 9084 and 9088, and 9084 and 9086 respectively.
David and Esther Some, being directors Keibukwo Investment Limited, were charged with unlawful acquisition of Sh221.3 million of public funds as compensation for public parcels of land – L.R. NO. 9085, 9086, 9087, and 9088.
The two also being directors of Dasahe Investment Limited were charged with unlawful acquisition of compensation for land, L.R. NO. 9088, for which they received Sh89.9 million.
The duo was also charged with unlawful acquisition of compensation for land, L.R. NO. 9086, as directors of Olomotit Investment Limited, David and Esther receiving Sh43.8 million in compensation.
In their consolidated defence, the accused persons led by Senior Counsel Prof Tom Ojienda had asked the court to grant them bail submitting that no evidence had been adduced indicating they were likely to abscond subsequent court appearances.
The State led by Senior Assistant Director in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alexander Muteti, objected bail applications by accused persons on grounds that they faced serious corruption charges and that their release could erode public confidence in the war against graft.
In a rebuttal, Ojienda pleaded good faith defence while challenging the State to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused persons acted intentionally to defraud the public the Sh221.3 million.