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Judiciary risks Parliament indictment after Koome blocks summons

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Judiciary risks Parliament indictment after Koome blocks summons


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Chief Justice Martha Koome. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

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Summary

  • The Judiciary risks being indicted by Parliament for misappropriation of funds after Chief Justice Martha Koome blocked staff from responding to audit queries.
  • The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) wants Speaker Justin Muturi to rule whether it can proceed and conclude its ongoing work without receiving crucial evidence concerning the audit queries on Judiciary books of accounts for 2018/19.
  • PAC chairman Opiyo Wandayi has written to Mr Muturi seeking guidance on Judiciary’s failure to respond to audit queries raised in paragraphs 1644 and 1651 of the Auditor-General’s report for financial year 2018-2019.

The Judiciary risks being indicted by Parliament for misappropriation of funds after Chief Justice Martha Koome blocked staff from responding to audit queries.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) wants Speaker Justin Muturi to rule whether it can proceed and conclude its ongoing work without receiving crucial evidence concerning the audit queries on Judiciary books of accounts for 2018/19.

PAC chairman Opiyo Wandayi has written to Mr Muturi seeking guidance on Judiciary’s failure to respond to audit queries raised in paragraphs 1644 and 1651 of the Auditor-General’s report for financial year 2018-2019.

The two audit queries relate to irregular acting appointments and irregular long acting appointments, respectively.

Justice Koome has since blocked Judiciary chief registrar Anne Amadi from appearing before PAC to explain why it has failed to hire a finance director for seven years.

She also stopped the human resources committee of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) from telling MPs why more than 10 positions at the Judiciary lack substantive heads.

Ten officers holding senior positions like directors and principal officers have been in acting capacity for between 16 and 40 months. The Auditor-General hadflagged Ms Susan Oyatsi who was first appointed to act as the director of finance in February 2015 and has since been interviewed twice for the position.

“The committee seeks your ruling on whether or not there are persons that are exempt from the application of the provisions of Article 125 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of Kenya,” Mr Wandayi wrote.

Appearing before PAC yesterday, National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai said Speaker Justin Muturi would soon rule on Ms Koome and the committee letters.

“I confirm that the Speaker has received your letter and that from CJ Koome. The Speaker will be responding to those letters and issues will be clarified soon,” he told MPs.

Ms Oyatsi last week obtained court orders blocking the JSC from proceeding with fresh recruitment of the Finance Director.

Ms Koome complained that MPs had summoned the HR committee of the JSC for a follow-up discussion on the position of the director of finance, a matter that is squarely the responsibility of the Judicial Service Commission.

Ms Koome on July 13, 2021 fired a stinging letter to the Speakers of Parliament, arguing that the summons undermines the independence of Judiciary.

Justice Koome complained of ‘harassment’ of Ms Amadi through incessant and multiple summons by committees.

“Honourable Speaker… the Public Accounts Committee requests that you make a ruling on whether PAC can adopt and apply special standards in examining the Auditor-General’s reports on the financial statements for the Judiciary and JSC or not,” the July 13 letter states.

Appearing before PAC yesterday, National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai said Speaker Muturi will soon make a ruling on Ms Koome and the committee letters.

“I confirm that the Speaker has received your letter and that from CJ Koome. The Speaker will be responding to those letters and issues will be clarified soon,” Mr Sialai told MPs.

PAC wants the Judiciary to reveal the scores for all the candidates who took part in the two interviews held on September 17, 2017 and November 5, 2019 and why none resulted in filling the position.



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