The High Court has directed President Kibaki to gazette members of the National Land Commission within the next seven days, raising hope for the conclusion of pending land transactions.
Justice David Majanja on Monday ruled that there was no basis for the grounds raised by the Attorney General to justify the delay in gazetting the commissioners and upheld arguments by the Kenya Land Alliance that the President’s failure to gazette the nine members is causing unnecessary panic and public anxiety.
Two people — Amoni Thomas Amfry and Nagib Shamsan — filed a petition in the High Court under a certificate of urgency seeking action against Attorney General Githu Muigai and Lands minister James Orengo.
The petitioners argued that the delayed appointment of officials to the National Land Commission (NLC) risks triggering fraudulent and irregular land transactions during the transition period ahead of the next General Elections.
“The delay in the setting in motion the operation of such a key institution in land reforms in our country contrary to the intention of Kenyans expressed through their duly elected representatives cannot be allowed to go on especially bearing in mind our common history where the emotive issue of land has caused untold suffering and lives have been lost,” said Justice Majanja.
Although Parliament on August 21 last year approved the names of nine members to serve on the commission, the President has not made the appointments.
The petitioners claimed that the delay had earlier been linked to two court cases filed by 16 people who claimed the composition of the team infringed on their fundamental rights and freedom.
The High Court in October, however, dismissed the two cases, raising hope that the President was now free to make the appointments.
But months later the appointments have not been made prompting the court action.
“No reason has been publicly advanced by His Excellency the President as to why the interested parties have not appointed into the commission through a notice in the official gazette,” the litigants stated.
“The only remedy therefore is to direct the President to act in accordance with the Constitution and the law,” said Justice Majanja.
The NLC is tasked with managing public land on behalf of the national and county governments among other roles.