, NAIROBI, Kenya, February 19 – The High Court has temporarily barred the Senate from summoning nine Governors to answer queries of financial mismanagement, pending the outcome of a case lodged by a lobby group.
While delivering the ruling, Justice Mumbi Ngugi stated that the application by the International Legal Consultancy Group raised valid concerns and has referred the matter to the Chief Justice, to appoint a bench to hear the matter.
“In the circumstances of this case, I take the view that in order to allow for a considered determination of the question of the role of the Senate in matters of county finance, the orders prayed for are merited. In the circumstances, pending the hearing and determination of this petition, a temporary injunction is hereby issued restraining the respondents from summoning the Governors to appear before it,” she stated.
While giving the directions, she pointed out that the doctrine of the separation of powers is not an end in itself but a system of checks and balances.
“The court as the final arbiter under the constitution is obliged to adjudicate any dispute between various arms of state and determine the contours of separation having regard for the constitutional functions of each organ. This matter is one that clearly falls within the ambits of the Court’s jurisdiction,” she said.
She further stated that the Senate should not summon any of the county executive committee members responsible for finance before the petition is heard and determined.
“I also issue an order that pending the hearing and determination of this petition, a temporary injunction be and is hereby issued restraining the respondents from summoning the county executive committee members responsible for finance to appear before it to answer questions of county government finances.”
She indicated that if left unchecked such action by the Senate could have tragic consequences to the nation.
“When certain state organs disregard the constitution with impunity. Such conduct may have short term physiological or other benefits for individuals or other members of some of the state organs who seem intent on riding rough shod over their constitution. It does not however bode well for the people of Kenya,” she said.
Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi who was representing the nine summoned Governors welcomed the ruling saying that the Senate has no power to issues summonses.
“The Senate has no powers to summon Governors or the county assembly members and I think the court has stopped all those shenanigans that the Senate was engaging in. It simply has no powers and I think the court also made an important policy statement in which the legislator is disregarding to participate in proceeding they should be a part of,” he said.
“At the end of the day, they will definitely loose in the long term. We are very happy although it is an interim; it was a very far reaching ruling in terms of entrenching devolution within the laws of this country.”
The group argues that officers in counties are accountable to the County Assembly for financial management and the Senate would be usurping that power by purporting to summon Governors.
The lobby group that filed the application wants the Senate Standing Committee on Economic and Finance barred from summoning Governors from Bungoma, Bomet, Kiambu, Kitui, Kisumu, Nakuru, Narok, Tana River and Wajir Counties over financial management.
The lobby’s lawyer Peter Wanyama argued that the summonses contravene Article 226(2) of the Constitution which provides that an accounting officer of a national public entity is accountable to the National Assembly for its financial management.
Nine governors, including the chairman of the Governors Council Isaac Ruto, Ken Lusaka, William Kabogo, Julius Malombe, Jack Ranguma, Kinuthia Mbugua of Nakuru had received the summons.