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September 26, 2018

Swazuri accuses prosecution of disobeying office access orders

Suspended NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri at the Milimani court on Friday. /COLLINS KWEYU
Suspended NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri at the Milimani court on Friday. /COLLINS KWEYU

Suspended NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri has accused the prosecution of disobeying an order allowing him to access his office if cleared by the commission CEO.

Through lawyer Tom Ojienda, he said he has been denied access.

But senior assistant prosecuting counsel Lilian Ogwora dismissed the allegation. She said there is no evidence in court to show Swazuri had requested the National Land Commission CEO to allow him to get into his office.

Ogwora said the orders issued by the court were clear and directed to the NLC chief executive and EACC officers handling the case — not the prosecution.

Swazuri and his co-accused have been charged with conspiring to commit crimes which led to the loss of Sh222,375,000 public funds in payments for three parcels belonging to the Kenya Railways Corporation. He was freed on bail.

Read: Swazuri barred from office, freed on Sh6 million bond

Witness protection

Last month, chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi allowed Swazuri to visit his office only after writing a letter to seek clearance from the commission CEO.

On Friday, Mugambi directed Swazuri to file a formal application in court to show how the prosecution had disobeyed the orders.Once this happenes, the prosecution would be expected to respond formally to the accusations.

The court sought to safeguard the case to avert interferenace or anyhting that would compromise it. In this reagrd, the magistrate  put measures to protect prosecution witnesses who are employees at the commission.

He had ruled that the EACC makes appropriate arrangements to ensure contacts between witnesses and commissioner Swazuri are minimised.

The court barred all the other public officers in the case from accessing their offices unless there is prior authorisation by their heads of department. It declined to vary the orders on accessing bail but clarified it had not barred Swazuri from going to his office.

Others charged alongside Swazuri are commission secretary Tom Chavangi and directors Salome Munubi, Francis Mugo, Gladys Muyanga (Ministry of Lands) and Obadiah Wainaina (surveyor). Kenya Railways MD Atanas Maina was also charged.

The case will be mentioned on September 21. The prosecution is expected to make an application for Ojienda to recuse himself from the case as Swazuri’s lawyer.

The DPP has argued that there will be a conflict of interest if Ojienda is allowed to proceed because he also represents the NLC in several court cases that are still pending.

Noordin Haji said the NLC is a public agency and it is in the interest of justice that its representation avoids such conflicts.

More: Swazuri bought dubious SGR plots

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