National Lands Commission Chairperson Mohammed Swazuri and 16 other senior officials accused of conspiring to defraud the government 221 million shillings in the Standard Gauge Railway land compensation have been released on bail.
Anti-corruption Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi ordered Mohammed Swazuri and Kenya Railways Cooperation Managing Director Atanas Maina to pay a Ksh6 million bond or an alternative Ksh 3.5 million cash bail and deposit their passports with the court and keep off their offices unless accompanied by a police officer.
After spending the weekend in police custody, the 17 suspects appeared before the anti-corruption court for illegally facilitating the payment of Ksh 221 million in compensation for the acquisition of government land for the Standard Gauge Railway.
Swazuri and co-accused were charged with abuse of office, conspiracy to defraud the government, breach of trust, unlawful acquisition of public property and neglect of official duty.
Those charged alongside Swazuri included National Lands Commission Chief Executive Officer Tom Chavangi, two registrars at Ministry of Lands Caroline Nabalayo and Peter Ng’ang’a, two senior land commission directors Salome Munubi and Francis Mugo with a licensed land surveyor Obadiah Mbugua.
The prosecution alleged that Swazuri disregarded resolutions by the commissioners at National Land Commission and went ahead to approve the Ksh 221 million payment to individuals with questionable land documents for the SGR compensation.
On the other hand, Atanas Maina being at the helm of Kenya Railways Cooperation is accused of failing to protect the said parcels of land owned by the cooperation.
Appearing before Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi, the suspects denied all the charges and were granted bail pending the hearing and determination of their case.
In granting them bail, Anti-corruption Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti ruled that there were no valid reasons to hold the suspects in custody however in order for them to maintain their freedom they will have to comply with stringent orders including handing over their travel documents to the court.
The defense had argued that their clients deserved bail as constitutional right refuting claims by the prosecution they were a flight risk.