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Economy

Uhuru taps Hague defence lawyer for NLC chair job

Gershom Otach
Advocate Gershom Otachi Bw'Omanwa of Ogetto,Otachi & Company Advocates. PHOTO | LIZ MUTHONI | NMG 

President Uhuru Kenyatta has nominated a former member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) defence team as the new National Land Commission chairperson.

Mr Gershom Otachi will become the second NLC chair following the end of Dr Muhammad Swazuri’s controversial six-year term, which saw him charged in court over a multi-million shilling land deal.

Mr Otachi, currently the chair of Geothermal Development Corporation, served in the defence team of six Kenyans, including Mr Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at the ICC for crimes against humanity.

ICC judges dismissed charges against the six Kenyans.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi communicated Mr Otachi’s nomination yesterday alongside four women and four other men that the President have nominated as NLC commissioners.

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They include former Labour Secretary Kazungu Kambi, former Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi, former Egerton University Vice- Chancellor James Tuitoek and Getrude Nduku Nguku.

Other nominated commissioners are property valuer Reginald Okumu, Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji, Alister Murimi Mutugi and former Isiolo woman Representative Tiya Galgalo.

Mr Otachi is currently the managing partner of Ogetto, Otachi and Company Advocates, the law firm that recently produced the current Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto.

If cleared by MPs, he will succeed Dr Swazuri whose six-year term came to a rough end in February.

The names were picked from a list of two (for chairperson) and 16 (commissioners) that the selection panel, chaired BY Priscilla Nyokabi, forwarded to President Kenyatta.

Former Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) commissioner-general John Njiraini dropped his quest for chair, just one week after he was shortlisted and interviewed for the job.

Under the NLC Act, President Kenyatta had to forward his choice to Parliament for vetting within 14 days of receiving the names from the panel.

“The new National Land Commission...made in the image of the Office of the President...high time we stopped this nonsense and sham selection process remote controlled by the executive...and instead bestow all the powers on the President to nominate whoever he wants...” lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi tweeted yesterday

The NLC chairperson’s job has one of the most unenviable assignments characterised by slow pace of land reforms, infighting among commissioners and several cases of corruption, denting its public image.

Dr Swazuri was hounded out of office by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) amid claims of fraud.

The EACC suspects that NLC officers have inflated land compensation rates for nearly every public infrastructure development made in the past six years.

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