The High Court on Wednesday declined to stop the National Land Commission (NLC) vice-chairperson, Abigael Mukolwe, from chairing meetings of the commission, among other duties, in the absence of chairman Muhammad Swazuri.
Instead, Justice Chacha Mwita directed Prof Swazuri, who has accused Ms Mukolwe of purporting to take over his duties, to serve the petition and come for hearing of the case on April 15. By then, Prof Swazuri would be out of office because his term ends on February 19.
In a reply filed in court, NLC Acting Director, Legal Services and enforcement Brian Ikol, has defended Ms Mukolwe against Prof Swazuri’s accusations saying she was only discharging her official duties.
Mr Ikol further said the petition was unwarranted because the operations of the Commission will be crippled if orders sought by Prof Swazuri are granted. The NLC further said that owing to the stringent bail terms granted to Prof Swazuri by the High Court in another case, he has been absent from office and Ms Mukolwe had to step in.
He said the decisions of the Commission are made at the plenary and Prof Swazuri cannot attend to them because he cannot interact with other commissioners and other employees of NLC. This is because seven of the eight commissioners and some employees have been lined up as witnesses in a trial against Prof Swazuri and 13 other persons.
Prof Swazuri filed the petition two weeks ago accusing Ms Mukolwe of unlawfully calling for meetings, issuing directives and memos and making decisions as though she is the one in charge of the Commission.
It was his argument that her conduct has interfered with the operations of the Commission, triggered institutional chaos and continues to expose it to liability.
Prof Swazuri further stated that Ms Mukolwe will make a smooth handing over difficult, when his terms expires, because of her conduct.
He has been charged together with Dr Salome Munubi, Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina and 12 others over fraudulent compensation for five parcels of land for the standard gauge railway.
A magistrate had barred him from accessing his office, after he was charged but Prof Swazuri moved to the High Court and the order was quashed. The court, however, stopped him from interfering with witnesses or evidence to be used in his trial.