Nairobi governor Mike Sonko has maintained that the disputed Ruaraka land is public property.
He told off National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri who said on Wednesday the land was private.
Swazuri had defended the decision to pay businessman Francis Mburu, who has staked a claim to the land.
Two public schools sit on the 13.7 acres — Ruaraka Secondary and Drive Inn Primary.
“We must respect and protect public property. It doesn’t matter how rich you are. You can’t use your position to grab public land. Ruaraka land is a public utility,” Sonko said on Thursday in his office.
Lands executive Charles Kerich took a similar position in May. He told the National Assembly Committee on Lands the parcel is public property.
But on Wednesday, Swazuri said the NLC did not commit any illegalities in approving the Sh1.5 billion compensation by the Education ministry.
He said relevant authorities, including the Attorney General’s office and the Education and Lands ministries, had confirmed the land was private.
The embattled NLC chief said the Education ministry wrote to them in March last year and acknowledged the land was private. The letter written by Education PS Belio Kipsang authorised the commission to proceed with compensation, he said.
Swazuri said the commission wrote back informing the ministry that the directions must be given by the CS in line with the Land Act.
“That’s the letter used by people to say we are the ones who instigated. We were only correcting,” he said.
Swazuri accused the media and other entities of twisting the facts about the compensation to make it look like “a scandal, a saga and a puzzle”.
He said the matter first came to the NLC’s attention in July 2015 when the alleged owner, Mburu, brought a complaint before it.
“People say that it was ‘a hurried process, it was done just the other day’. The complaint has been there for 34 years,” Swazuri said.
On Monday, Education CS Amina Mohamed said former Education CS Fred Matiang’i and Kipsang disregarded the ministry’s internal report to authorise the payment.
She said the report by the Quality Assurance and Standards Taskforce was submitted to Matiang’i and Kipsang on February 3 last year — 11 months before the duo approved the cash.
Sonko said Kenyans must support President Uhuru Kenyatta in the fight against corruption. He pledged to ensure landgrabbers face the full force of the law. The county will use every legal avenue to protect public land, he said.
Sonko said City Hall has secured land meant for markets so private developers do not acquire fake title deeds or allotment letters.
“No private developer will grab public property under my leadership,” the governor said.