Acting CJ Mwilu swears in NLC commissioners

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Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has urged members of the National Land Commission (NLC) to live up to their oath of office or resign.

Speaking on Monday after swearing in two new commissioners, Justice Mwilu said failure by NLC members discharge their very crucial role in resolving emotive land issues may plunge the country into chaotic scenarios.

Justice Mwilu said failure by the commissioners to observe their oaths and working in accordance to the commission’s legal framework may cause land disputes to mutate to murder cases.

She said NLC deals with the most critical resource. “I say the most critical resource,” she emphasised.

She said NLC members are supposed to reflect on the words of their oaths of office which they not only swear before judges but also before God.

“As you come into this sector today, ask yourselves what you are called upon to do, to right the many wrongs in the lands sector — and they are many,” Justice Mwilu stated.

Acting CJ Philomena Mwilu (seated) signs the certificate of appointment of Ms Esther Murugi as NLC commssioner./Richard Munguti | Nation Media Group

First official assignment

While swearing in the last two of the eight NLC members — Ms Esther Murugi Mathenge and Ms Tiya Galgalo — in her first official assignment as the acting CJ at the Supreme Court Nairobi, Justice Mwilu said crooks who wreck the lands sector are getting wiser by the day.

She advised NLC members to always “be ahead of the crooks” in order to defeat their vices besides doing things rightly and correcting all the ills that have bedevilled the lands sector.

She asked the NLC members to work as a team and allow nothing to divide them as they strive to work for the good of this country.

During the swearing in ceremony, the two commissioners were accompanied by the NLC Vice-Chairperson Gertrude Nduku Nguku who said Ms Murugi and Ms Galgalo have a wealth of experience from their earlier dockets which they bring to the commission.

Ms Murugi, a former Nyeri Town MP, and Ms Galgalo, a former Isiolo woman representative, had to wait for more than one year to be sworn in after their appointment by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The two took the oath of office after the Court of Appeal overturned a decision of the Labour court to quash their appointments.

Vetting

The court had on December 14, 2019 ruled that the vetting of the two former MPs by Parliament was done in excess of parliamentary powers, hence the President’s decision to appoint them was irregular.

They were appointed as NLC commissioners in October last year but the move was challenged in court through three petitions lodged by rights activists Okiya Omtatah, Anthony Otiende Otiende, Moses Kiptum and Katiba Institute.

As a result of the ruling by Labour Judge Hellen Wasilwa, NLC has been operating with seven commissioners instead of nine. The commissioners are appointed to serve for a non-renewable term of six years.

Once appointed to office, members of the commission enjoy security of tenure and cannot be removed except for the specific grounds set out in Article 251 of the Constitution.

The grounds include serious violation of the Constitution or any other law, gross misconduct whether in the performance of duty or otherwise, physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office, incompetence or bankruptcy.

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