Swazuri moves to block hearing of petition seeking his ouster

National land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri

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 bribery allegations.

The embattled chairman says that a parliamentary committee does not have the power to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption brought against him, adding that the mandate exclusively belongs to the National Police Service 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.

He wants the court to issue an order stopping Wednesday’s decision by the Departmental Committee on Lands from convening and proceeding to hear the petition pending determination of this case.

Yesterday (Tuesday), former Journalist Mugo Njeru filed a petition before the Parliamentary Lands Committee seeking to have NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri removed from the commission over bribery allegations.

The former journalist accused the NLC chair of soliciting a Ksh1.2 million bribe for him in order to facilitate compensation for a 1-acre piece of land used during the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.

Speaking before the Parliamentary Lands Committee, Mr Njeru said he owns land along Mombasa road-8 acres of land and one acre of the land was acquired for the purpose of building the SGR.

He said Mr Swazuri asked him to pay the bribe through his lawyer Elijah Fadhili Yahaa to facilitate his compensation for the land.

Mr Njeru told the committee that in 2015 he was told to go to Mombasa where he was to meet Mr Swazuri over the deal and that he should carry Ksh1.2million as he could not see the chairman empty handed.

Mugo told the MPs that Mr Swazuri’s lawyer told him the money was to be shared among the NLC commissioners.

“In 2015 I told by Mr Elijah Fadhili that I could raise the Ksh1.2million but I had Ksh1million. We met with Swazuri in Mombasa at Rotus Hotel but he refused to take the money saying I should give it to his lawyer who knows how the money will get to him,” Njeru said.

Julius Ndegwa, Lamu West MP, wondered why Mr Njeru had to pay the chairman to get compensated, saying it seemed to him that this was a case of a deal gone sour.

“This to me seems like a deal gone sour because if the land belongs to you why then would you bribe the chairman in order to be compensated?” posed Mr Ndegwa.

The committee will also call NLC commissioners and Chairman Muhammad Swazuri to respond to the allegations.

Additional reporting by Vincent Afande

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