The National Lands Commission (NLC) has been accused of deliberately slowing down the Weston Hotel land case to hand Deputy President William Ruto an easier route out.
According to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) lawyers James Orengo and Otiende Amollo, the commission’s powers to review grants and dispositions of public land expired two years ago as stipulated in Section 14 of NLC Act.
Despite being seized of the Langata land matter in 2015, KCAA lawyers argued, hearing and determination of the complaint was deliberately delayed for four years to frustrate its efforts to recover the land.
“NLC lacked jurisdiction to render its determination over the petitioner’s (KCAA) claim for restitution of its allocated public land, because under the NLC law, its mandate to review grants and dispositions of public land expired five (5) years from commencement of the Act (May 3, 2017),” argued KCAA.
“It had no powers to review grants and dispositions by January 25, 2019, more than one (1) year eight (8) months late, suggesting deliberate delay by NLC so as to frustrate KCAA.”
KCAA claims the verdict was fuelled by underhanded motive in a bid to ensure it did not get back the land.
“NLC decision was also issued with ulterior motive and purpose calculated to prejudice, frustrate and defeat KCAA’s rights restitution of the subject parcel and restoration of its legal rights,” says the Authority.
“The determination requiring KCAA to surrender the land is irrational and unreasonable, solely intended to entrench corruption and land grabbing of public landby powerful individuals and private entities for self-gain, at the expense of the larger Kenyan populace.”
The composition of the land’s commission is also at the heart of the case. Justice Bernard Eboso was told the NLC was improperly constituted when it gave the determination on January 25, 2019.
The court heard that NLC Vice Chair Abigael Mbagaya (below) arrogated herself the role of Chairman Muhammad Swazuri yet he had not vacated office.
“Having not been appointed or taken oath of office as chairperson under the NLC Act, it is not competent for the vice chair to arrogate unto herself the powers of the chairperson to sign off a decision of NLC as chair, in the absence of any vacancy in the office of the chair,” KCAA says. “The determination does not therefore qualify as a lawful determination of the NLC.”
It also emerged that although the hearing was conducted by all other commissioners, the final verdict was only signed by Mbagaya (pictured).
KCAA argues, “The determination is unlawful, therefore null and void, having been signed by one member to the exclusion of all other commissioners, which act violates the NLC regulations that requires a committee of at least three members of the commission to hear complaints lodged thereunder.”
The court heard there was no explanation for failure of the committee members to authenticate and affirm the verdict by signing.