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Swazuri sues deputy for taking over his roles

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By MAUREEN KAKAH
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National Land Commission (NLC) boss Muhammad Swazuri has sued his deputy for taking over his duties.

Dr Swazuri has accused NLC Vice-Chairperson Abigael Mbagaya of unlawfully calling meetings, issuing directives and memos and making decisions “as though she is the one in charge of the land commission”. He claims that her conduct has interfered with the commission’s operations, triggered institutional chaos, and continues to expose the commission to liability.

He argues that the law allows any member to act as vice-chairperson, but not as chairperson of the commission.

He claims that the court barred her from serving in an acting capacity as NLC boss in a separate case.

Through lawyer Duncan Okubasu, Dr Swazuri seeks to have the court block Ms Mbagaya “from purporting to exercise the powers of the chairperson of the NLC”.

He argues that the commission’s term ends on February 19, and Ms Mbagaya’s conduct will make a smooth handing over difficult. He claims that there are now two command centres in the commission and faults Ms Mbagaya for sacking employees, interfering with their terms of employment, and issuing gazette notices.

Dr Swazuri was appointed NLC chair in February 2013, but was charged last year, alongside Valuation and Taxation Committee Director Salome Munubi, Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina and 12 others over fraudulent compensation for five parcels of land for the standard gauge railway.

When he took a plea, he was barred from accessing his office, which led to his deputy stepping in to act as the acting chairperson. But Dr Swazuri moved to the High Court and obtained an order allowing him to access his office, a move that was challenged by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In the new case documents filed at the High Court Monday, Dr Swazuri accuses his deputy of staging a coup after the corruption charges were brought against him. He also accuses her of removing his name and photo from a draft final report of the commission, saying his position has not been declared vacant. As result, he wants all the decisions Ms Mbagaya has made declared null and void.

He further argues that there has never been a vacancy in the office of the NLC chair which he insists he currently holds.

“Upon being charged in court, my deputy has declared herself as the chair of NLC and assumed office, she purports to make unilateral decisions and issue official communication on behalf of the commission,” said Prof Swazuri.

Prof Swazuri wants her blocked from calling for meetings, issuing directives, memos and letters or in any manner acting as the NLC chairperson.

He also wants the court to declareshe has unlawfully contravened sections of the constitution hence all decision made in acting capacity should be declared null and void.

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