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CIC says National Land Commission should not sign land title deeds

By Patrick Beja and Philip Mwakio   

Kenya: The Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC) wants the National Land Commission (NLC) barred from signing title deeds.

CIC is now pushing for the vital land documents to be signed by the Executive.

The body claims NLC has no constitutional powers to sign the deeds, adding a new dimension to the row pitting the commission against Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu.

In a letter dated October 25, CIC has faulted NLC over powers to prepare and sign title deeds and instead said the powers lay with the Land Registrar, who should be appointed by the Public Service Commission.

Public notice

CIC said a recent public notice by the NLC, which indicated that its Chairman Muhammed Swazuri and Chief Executive Officer Tom Aziz Chavangi would sign titles, has no legal basis.

In the letter signed by CIC Vice-Chairperson Elizabeth Muli, the commission said there should be a Chief Lands Registrar to register and issue certificates of titles and leases on all categories of land.

The Charles Nyachae-led team said such powers are not shared with NLC nor exercised as delegated authority.

 “There does not appear anywhere in the Section 134 referred to in the public notice any reference to the power of NLC to register titles to allocations in settlement schemes. CIC would request some clarification on the legal basis of this contention in the notice,” CIC said.

The letter has been written to Swazuri and copied to Ngilu and the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.

CIC said section 23 and 24 of the Land Act does not grant powers to NLC to register, issue or sign titles.

In a paid-up advertisement in a section of local dailies, Dr Swazuri had notified the public that he and the Commission Secretary were the only ones authoritised to sign titles to land, which include leases and grants.

Dr Swazuri warned that it was an offence for any person to purport to sign titles unless such a person had been authoritised through writing and appointed through a gazette notice signed by the commission’s chairman.

“The commission shall prosecute such a person in court of law for fraudulently procuring the registration or issuance of any document or instrument relating to land contrary to Section 157 of the Land Act. This offence is punishable by a fine of Sh10 million or imprisonment for a term of 10 years or both,” Swazuri said.

Monday, Dr Swazuri confirmed that NLC has received this letter and plans a meeting with CIC.

In the October 25 letter, Nyachae warns that land remained a sensitive issue in the country and must be handled with strict adherence to the law.  The NLC is subject to the Constitution and the law and matters of land play a key role in ensuring the full and faithful implementation of the Constitution,” Nyachae said.

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