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November 21, 2018

Swazuri narrates 50-hour ordeal in EACC police cell, cites rights violations

An officers removes handcuffs from NLC chairman Mohamed Swazuri (R) at the Milimani law court ceremonial hall on Monday, August 13. /COLLINS KWEYU
An officers removes handcuffs from NLC chairman Mohamed Swazuri (R) at the Milimani law court ceremonial hall on Monday, August 13. /COLLINS KWEYU

National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri has come out to tell of his 50-hour ordeal following his arrest over allegations of dubious SGR compensation payouts.

Swazuri was arrested in connections with questions regarding the over alleged purchase of land for the first phase of the standard gauge railway.

The arrest was executed by the EACC following orders from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

But in a letter to the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, the Lands commission boss complains of unfair treatment and infringement of his rights during the arrest.

"I wish to bring to the attention of your office certain egregious infringements of my human rights and dignity as a senior public official and a citizen of this country."

Swazuri wrote in the August 14 letter that his house was raided before he was arrested at about 5am on the Saturday of August 11, 2018.

He said that the arresting officer told him there and then that he was under arrest and would be taken to court on Monday, August 13, 2018.

"This statement betrays the existence of prior instructions to detain me in custody until my appearance in court," Swazuri narrates.

More on this: How Swazuri authorised suspicious payout for SGR land

He notes that he demanded to be shown the warrant of arrest against him but the more than 21 officers who went to arrest him blatantly refused.

The NLC chair added that he was not informed of any reason(s) for his arrest before being whisked away in a convoy of cars.

"The charges against me were only revealed to me at 5pm on Saturday, almost ten hours after arrest."

"Article 49 (1) (a) provides that an arrested person ought to be promptly informed in a language that they understand of the reason of their arrest," Swazuri said.

"It is noteworthy that the first thing the arresting officer did when they entered my home was to confiscate my mobile phones and those of my wife's."

He said the treatment put him in a situation where he could not seek help from anybody, including his lawyers.

"The phones were later returned to me at 8pm on that Saturday," he added.

The embattled NLC chairman said that at the EACC Integrity Centre police station, his advocates requested on several occasions for him to be released on favourable bond terms, but the officers categorically refused.

"The officers said that they had strict instructions 'from above' to detain me for the weekend. Other suspects were successfully released on bond after their arrest that same morning," he said.

He said that six other suspects, including Atanas Maina - Kenya Railways manager, were in the cells when EACC announced that the remaining suspects could report to the offices on Monday.

"They were promptly processed and we managed to go to court together. This begs the question of what was the point of detaining me for 50 hours from Saturday," Swazuri asked.

He said that the actions as detailed are in his view illegal, malicious, and a violation of his fundamental rights "as expressly provided in Article 49 of the Constitution of Kenya."

Also read: NLC split as Swazuri fights back over job

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