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AG backs Ngilu in Lands power tussle

Tuesday April 15 2014

Attorney-General Githu Muigai has joined ranks with the National Assembly in its supremacy wars against the Judicial Service Commission. Photo/FILE

Attorney-General Githu Muigai has joined ranks with the National Assembly in its supremacy wars against the Judicial Service Commission. Photo/FILE 

LUCAS BARASA
By LUCAS BARASA
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The Attorney-General has supported Lands minister Charity Ngilu in the dispute over the management of the resource in the country.

Prof Githu Muigai said the mandates of both the Ministry of Lands and the National Land Commission were connected, complimentary or inter-related.

“Having examined the functions of all the departments in light of the applicable legal provisions, none of the departmental functions exclusively belongs to the ministry or the commission,” Prof Muigai said.

Responding to a request by the NLC on its mandate vis-a-vis that of its parent ministry, Prof Muigai added: “It is, therefore, a matter of vital importance that the two bodies function in the spirit of collaboration, consultation and cooperation.”

The government’s chief legal adviser said the ministry and the commission should hold consultations with a view of devising a formula that would ensure the division of functions and responsibilities.

Mrs Ngilu and NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri have been wrangling over who has the power to register land documents, appointments of key officials and renewal of land leases, among other things.

A delay by the ministry to hand over some key roles to the NLC has been cited as one of the key challenges in the agency’s first year of operations.

But in a letter to NLC chief executive Tom Chavangi dated March 31, Prof Muigai says although the Constitution bestows upon the commission the mandate to administer public land, “this does not mean that the function of administration and management of public land is an exclusive mandate of the commission without any involvement from the ministry.”

“Various provisions of the law require the participation of the ministry. A good illustration of this is Section 5 (2)(a) of the NLC Act which requires the consent of the ministry when the commission is alienating public land,” he said.