Swazuri to CS Amina; "Table documents to show Ruaraka land is public."

Chairman of Lands Commission Mohamed Swazuri addressing the press at their offices on 25/7/18-[Beverlyne Musili, Standard]
The land commission has accused faceless individuals of using the Sh3.2 billion land row to fight former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i.

This comes a day after Education CS Amina Mohamed told MPs that the land on which Ruaraka High and Drive-In Primary schools stand, and for which the State has already paid Sh1.5 billion, was public.

Amina and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko have maintained the land that is subject to an Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) probe is public.

Yesterday, National Land Commission (NLC) officials led by Muhammad Swazuri convened a press conference and asked anyone to table evidence that the disputed land was public.

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Tabled documents

“As far as the commission is concerned the land in question is private. We have tabled documents to show that. The same has been given to Parliament and EACC. If anyone has contrary information and documents let them also table theirs,” said Prof Swazuri.

The NLC chairman claimed that facts about compensation for the land had been twisted by the media to force him out of office.

“Some of you are expecting us to resign but we are here to do our work. It is only cowards who resign. I am here to stay and no one can make me do otherwise,” Swazuri said at a press conference during which he refused to field questions from journalists.

He accused people he did not name of using the saga to settle scores with Dr Matiang’i, who is now the Interior CS and who was in charge at the Ministry of Education when the transaction was done.

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“If you have issues with Matiang’i, do not use my name. Just walk across to Harambee House and ask him those questions."

The NLC boss said all correspondence on the land in question showed that the rightful owner was Afrison Import Ltd and Huelands Ltd, both associated with businessman Francis Mburu.

Original land

He clarified that the two schools occupied 13.5 acres, being part of the original 96 acres acquired in 1984.

He said in March last year, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang asked the commission to proceed with compensation processes, but NLC wrote back informing the ministry such directions could only be issued by a Cabinet secretary in line with the Land Act.

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"That is the letter being used by people to say that we are the ones who instigated. We were only correcting," he said.

Even while processing the compensation, Swazuri said, all Government correspondence indicated that the State was acquiring part of the land in question.

The commission further insisted that the landowner was compensated when the Thika Super Highway was being built, when he received payment for the houses currently occupied by the General Service Unit and part of Outer Ring Road.

Public body

“If anybody has queries, we are a public body. We are not supposed to hide information, so come for that information. What is wrong with the commission prescribing the necessary legislation for land acquisition since the land has been confirmed as private?" he said.

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Swazuri said the records at the Ministry of Lands indicated that the owner had objected to the sub-division of the 96 acres by the then Nairobi City Council.

"This is the letter that people are relying on to say that the land was surrendered. There was no surrender, and if somebody has that surrender, let them bring it to us," he said.

The NLC chairman described claims that the acquisition process was hurriedly done as misleading.

He said there was a court ruling in 2012 that confirmed the land belonged to Mr Mburu while awarding the businessman Sh4.1 billion, and that this verdict was not challenged.

He claimed a parliamentary committee had already established that the land was private.

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national lands commissionmuhammad swazurifights backcs amina mohammedMike Sonko