|The National Land Commission (NLC) vice-chair Getrude Nguku, has hit back at Justice said Juma Chitembwe for saying that the commission has no powers to handle private land disputes.
Chitembwe through his lawyer Augustus Wafula said that, NLC only had the mandate to deal with land allotment cases, adding that any private land dispute can be heard by the Land and environment court.
The high court judge is among 47 individuals and companies listed in the disputed prime land belonging to Nyali Primary School.
Nguku responded saying NLC took over the mandate of the former Lands Commission in the old constitution, adding that they can investigate any kind of matter.
She was responding during a media briefing after the conclusion of their five-day land dispute hearing in Mombasa.
The Nguku led NLC alternative dispute resolution technical team was in Mombasa for a week to conduct inquiries and investigations into disputed parcels of land in the counties of Mombasa, Kwale, and Kilifi. The sessions were being held at the Kenya School of Government Mombasa.
“The constitution gives us the mandate to carry out inquiries, interview witnesses, and also collect documents when there is a complaint a dispute of land ownership,” said Nguku.
“According to the constitution, it is only this commission that can administer public land for counties and for the national government. It means we inherited all the duties and responsibilities of the former commissioner of land,” she said.
She added that in the constitution under Article 252 all commissions including NLC have got the mandate and the capacity to interview witnesses, call them, receive documents and go through them to resolve disputes.
“If there is any question or any dispute which arises about the allocation of land or occupation of land by a public institution, it’s only this commission that has the mandate to interrogate that process,” she added.
The commission is yet to make a ruling on the Nyali School land row, it has already received documents and heard submissions from all the parties mentioned.
“We are going to interrogate the process and make recommendations about what happed and recommendations about how the matter can be resolved successfully,” she said.
In another matter before the commission, NLC managed to resolve the Tononoka Children’s Court land dispute.
The property was until August 2002 was a public property belonging to the national government, however between diverse dates in August that year, it had a lease document prepared by the commissioner of lands in favor of two other parties.
Nguku said that the parties have failed to appear before the commission despite being sent notices and publications even put on national newspapers.
The principal magistrate of the court appeared before the commission and managed to give evidence about ownership and occupation of the land.
The parties before us who were summoned to appear before us who claim to have ownership, one of them came and said they’re no longer claiming it, the other party has been summoned several times but they have not appeared,” she said.
She said that there was an indication from the county that their ownership of the said land was questionable.
The commission is going to make a ruling on that and will also fast-track the allocation process for the court for one of the plots where the claim is not there and where the party said they were not asking for any rights on it.
The commission is expected back again in the region in February.