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Economy

Swazuri kept in cells on Sh12m bail hitch

Former National Land Commission chairperson Muhammad Swazuri
Former National Land Commission chairperson Muhammad Swazuri. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Former National Land Commission chairperson Muhammad Swazuri, who has spent the eighth night in the police cells, is seeking a review of his release terms after being charged with Sh109 million fraud.

In the application, Prof Swazuri said the Sh12 million cash bail or Sh30 million bond imposed by Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi was unjust, unreasonably high and in contravention of Article 49 of the Constitution.

Justice Mumbi Ngugi Wednesday certified his application as urgent and directed him to serve the Director of Public Prosecution and appear before her for a hearing today.

While releasing the accused persons on Tuesday, Mr Mugambi said the security to be provided by each one should not only guarantee court attendance for the trial but also ensure public confidence in the administration of justice.

The magistrate also noted that the charges against Prof Swazuri and the others concerned serious economic crimes. Police arrested the former NLC boss last Wednesday.

The court further directed the accused to surrender their passports and never contact any of the witnesses.

Prof Swazuri and others denied more than 20 counts including corruption, abuse of office, financial misconduct, fraudulent acquisition of public funds and money laundering.

The suspects include the NLC staff, business owners as well as spouses and relatives ofthee commission’s top managers

The charge sheet states that they conspired to commit corruption through fraudulent payment of Sh109 million for the alleged compulsory acquisition of land from Tornado Carriers on behalf of Kenya National Highways Authority.

He is alleged to have approved a second valuation of Sh109 million yet compensation for the land near Mombasa port had been set at Sh34.5 million.

Others given the Sh12 million cash bail are former commissioner Emma Njogu, ex-NLC chief executive Tom Aziz Chavangi, Valuation and Taxation Director Salome Munubi, Finance and Administration Director Francis Mugo and lawyer Catherine Wanjiru Chege.

Businessman Samuel Rugongo was granted freedom on Sh6 million cash bail or Sh15 million bond while Sostemah Ogero Taracha was ordered to deposit a cash bail of Sh3 million.

Ms Lilian Savai Kaverenge, Ms Evahmary Wachera and Michael Oloo were released on cash bails of Sh1.5 million each.

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