, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 9 – Interdicted Deputy Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Kakai Kissinger admitted to the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday that the Judiciary’s leasing of Elgon Place for the Court of Appeal was “irregular.”
He was unable to explain how the tender specifications for 34,400 square feet at a cost of Sh50 million translated into a lease agreement for 47,890 square feet at a cost of Sh70 million to the Kenyan tax payer.
“In my personal opinion I think it’s wrong; it’s irregular,” he told the committee chair and Budalang’i Member of Parliament Ababu Namwamba.
He added that it was also irregular for the Judiciary tender committee, which he chaired, to allow the Elgon Place bid to pass the preliminary stage given they bid in dollars while the tender specification was in Kenya shillings.
The interdicted Director of Supply Chain Management Martin Okwata was however adamant that it wasn’t against the law to vary the tender specifications, engage in negotiations before awarding a tender or allow a bid in US dollars while the specifications were Kenya shillings.
“Those submitting their bids don’t always read all the specifications to the last detail. They focus mainly on the major requirements,” was his explanation.
Which led Namwamba to comment, “no wonder the Judiciary is in the state it is in today. How can you work for the legal sanctum and not adhere to the letter of the law?”
The Judiciary’s Director of Finance Benedict Omollo however did not hesitate to admit that there were numerous irregularities in the way the Judiciary conducted its business in 2012 and 2013.
He picked out the advance payment of contractors, including a Sh43 million payment to a contractor for the construction of a court in Mavoko before land was secured.
An audit by the office of the Auditor General, done at PAC’s request, shows that close to Sh700 million was paid out in irregular advance payments to contractors.
Omollo added the payment of excessive allowances to non-Judicial Service Commission members to the list of irregularities.
He admitted that even he had received Sh480,000 in irregular allowances for attending JSC meetings.
“I brought it to the attention of the CJ that non-JSC members should not be getting the same Sh80,000 as commissioners in sitting allowances,” he said.
But preaching the proverbial water and drinking wine, he said he accepted the payment in spite of his being aware that it was wrong.
“I declined to receive it and then I was finally told I have to receive it,” he said.
But in a bid to absolve themselves of the blame, both Kissinger and Omollo said the ultimate responsibility for the irregularities lay with the then Chief Registrar of the Judiciary (CRJ) Gladys Boss Shollei.
Namwamba said Omollo and Kissinger will be summoned to reappear before the committee when the serving CRJ Atieno Amadi appears before them on Tuesday.